American Falls
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“American Falls”, located on the Snake River, were named for a party of American trappers whose boat was carried off by the river and plummeted over the falls. Only one man survived to tell of their journey. An attraction for early travelers, pioneers on the Oregon Trail (which passed just north of the present town) would hear the falls and investigate the origin. Emigrants described the falls as, “…a grand site”, and, “truly magnificent.”

As for the city of American Falls, a virtual Atlantis exists beneath the irrigation waters of American Falls Reservoir. In 1880 the city’s first permanent settlement consisted of just a few houses and cabins built on the Snake River’s west side. The Oregon Short Line Railroad chugged through town in 1883, and the city assumed a leadership role as the trading center for cattle ranches in this territory along the Snake River. In 1888, the town was moved to the east side of the river to a location now considered the “original townsite.” In 1925, the city’s landscape changed dramatically when the American Falls Dam was built in order to provide electricity to the city. In the building process, the falls were eliminated and the entire town was forced to move one-half mile east to higher ground. Not long after its 1925 re-establishment in its present location, the original American Falls townsite was flooded in the creation of the American Falls Reservoir. “Atlantis”, as though it were, appears when the water level drops during the hot summer months, revealing the roofs of buildings and other evidence of the old 19th century townsite.

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