Why One Small Fearless Idaho Town Was Amazingly Relocated Twice
We all know how awful moving is. Packing up boxes, loading them on a truck, unloading them at the new location, unpacking the boxes, and putting the contents into their proper spots in your new home. Doing the process once will make you want to stay in a house that's too small, too expensive, or even in a bad neighborhood. According to a study conducted in 2019, the stress of moving is more significant than going through a divorce, getting married, having children, starting your first job, or switching careers. Imagine an entire town going through the stress of moving twice! It happened in a small city in Idaho in 1888 and again 37 years later in 1925.
American Falls, Idaho, became a town in 1800 on the west side of the Snake River. They decided to move to the other side of the river to better take advantage of trade routes on the Oregon Trail. If it sounds crazy to move an entire town, it's because it hadn't been done before. It is the first American city to completely relocate. Since then, other cities have made similar moves. Hibbing, Minnesota, moved to make room for an iron mine in 1919. Valdez, Alaska, moved in the 60s when they realized it was built on a fault line. Most recently, Kiruna Sweden needed to be moved because the town was caving in on itself. The process began in 2007, and the plan is for the entire city to be relocated by 2100.
The move to the other side of the river allowed the town to grow in population by over 80%. Great for the economy but not for the future because it put the city in the flood zone of the Snake River. Having already been through the process, they decided to move once again. This next move allowed them to build a 94-foot high, 5,277-foot wide dam and create the American Falls Reservoir. The old town is now underwater in the reservoir. However, one structure remains visible: the Oneida Milling and Elevator Company grain elevator, which is 103 feet tall.
American Falls Reservoir is the largest in Idaho and is an excellent place for fishing, boating, and swimming. Every once in a while, when the water recedes, you can see parts of the old town appear.
The video below shows the "original town" site emerging from the water.