Shoshone Falls, Idaho, USA about 1892

Shoshone Falls, Idaho, USA about 1892

SHOSHONE FALLS, IDAHO — The Snake river in Idaho, like most of the streams in the mountainous regions of the Northwest, has an adventurous career. The fall before us is the most conspicuous of its cataracts, and forms, in its descent, a beautiful curve, resembling a Moorish arch. Ages ago Nature, as if to test the strength of this wild mountain torrent, erected here a barrier to its course. It was in vain. With a shout of triumph in its leap for liberty, the river bounds over this obstacle, falls seventy or eighty feet, extricates itself from the seething depths below amid great mounds of spray which sparkle in the sun like clouds of diamonds, and sweeps along unharmed and free. There has evidently been a struggle here in ages past. These grim and splintered rocks, rising above the waves, look like some scarred and mutilated veterans, who thus far have survived the combat, while the forms of their companions have been buried in the flood below. Yet our sympathy is not with them. It is rather with this freedom-seeking river, which will not bear resistance, but which attacks and overleaps its enemy with a roar of defiance that can be heard for miles. Twenty or thirty years from now, when all this wonderful section of our country shall have become widely known, and suitable hotels and roads can make a tour here delightful, it will be found that here are waterfalls surpassing many of the famous cataracts of Europe, which nevertheless are now almost without a name, and certainly without renown. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

Shoshone Falls is a waterfall on the Snake River in southern Idaho, located approximately five miles (8 km) east of the city of Twin Falls. Sometimes called the “Niagara of the West,” Shoshone Falls is 212 feet (65 m) high — 45 feet (14 m) higher than Niagara Falls — and flows over a rim 1,000 feet (300 m) wide.

A park overlooking the waterfall is owned and operated by the City of Twin Falls. Shoshone Falls is best viewed in the spring, as diversion of the Snake River for irrigation and hydroelectricity generation often significantly diminishes water levels in the late summer and fall.

Shoshone Falls has existed at least since the end of the last ice age, when the Bonneville Flood carved much of the Snake River canyon and surrounding valleys. It is a total barrier to the upstream movement of fish. The falls were the upper limit of sturgeon, and spawning runs of salmon and steelhead could not pass the falls. Yellowstone cutthroat trout lived above the falls in the same ecological niche as Rainbow Trout below it. Due to this marked difference, the World Wide Fund for Nature used Shoshone Falls as the boundary between the Upper Snake and the Columbia Unglaciated freshwater ecoregions.

Prior to the construction of the many dams on the Snake River below the falls, there were tremendous runs of salmon in the Snake River. The salmon fishery at the base of the falls was a primary food source for Bannock and Shoshone Indians. An 1843 expedition claimed that during the springtime runs, spears could be thrown into the water at random and consistently strike salmon.

Only 35% of fish species of the upper Snake River are shared with the lower Snake and Columbia rivers. Fourteen fish species found in the upper Snake are also found in the Bonneville freshwater ecoregion (which covers the Great Basin portion of Utah), but not the lower Snake or Columbia rivers. The upper Snake River is also high in freshwater mollusk endemism (such as snails and clams). (from Wikipedia)


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