Between the Falls and Bandits is the Moon

Trip Start Jun 04, 2010
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Trip End Sep 08, 2010


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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Sunday, September 5, 2010

Up and off to the falls. It was a bit crisp this morning, which felt good after all the hot weather we had on this trip.  The Snake River runs down the center of Idaho Falls. And along both sides of the river are two parks.  We stopped on the falls side of the river so I could get a few photos.  I also learned that in the  early 1980's a Hydro electric dam as build to provide 50% of the town's electric power.  Unlike most damns this one was designed to enhance the look of the falls.   This may not be as grandeur as Niagara or American Falls, but none the less it is a beautiful sight to behold.  I was disappointed in one small change.  There use to be a rope and plank bridge across the river to an island in the center.  It appears the island is no longer there. 

Idaho Falls owes its existence to the river and the railroad. It sits astride the mighty Snake River in Eastern Idaho, Bonneville County. It was and is a crossroads, and resting place for travelers on their way to other places. Just as traders, freighters, and pioneers used the town's early bridges to cross the Snake River on their way to someplace else, modern day travelers stop here on their way to close by vacation spots. While here, the traveler finds a modern city with many activities to delight the vacationer, businessman, and resident alike. Idaho Falls is located in the heart of some of the world's best known recreation areas including Yellowstone and Grand Teton National parks, Targhee, Sun Valley, Henry's Lake, Craters of the Moon, the Sawtooths, Island Park, Jackson Hole,  and several national forests.

The Shoshone-Bannock and Northern Paiute Indian tribes inhabited east central Idaho long before Lewis and Clark made their epic trek across Idaho in 1805.  When the expedition returned from the Pacific Coast, John Colter left the party and journeyed southwest. He discovered Teton Pass and wintered in Teton Valley. Accounts by Lewis and Clark of the richness of the territory attracted trappers and traders to Idaho.

One of the first permanent settlements was Fort Hall, located 30 miles south of Idaho Falls, established as a trading post in 1834. Trappers were followed by missionaries who came to convert the Indians. Father DeSmet held the first religious service in the West in Teton Valley near Driggs, or Pierre's Hole as it was known by trappers who gathered there each summer.

Although settlers by the thousands passed through Idaho on the Oregon Trail, it was not until the discovery of gold in 1860 that Idaho attracted settlers in any numbers. The ensuing gold rush brought a need for goods and services, and towns sprang up to serve as trade centers for the gold fields.

In 1864, Harry Rickets established a ferry to cross the Snake River nine miles north of the present city of Idaho Falls. Late in that same year and in the following year, J.M. (Matt) Taylor, a freighter, recognized the need for a bridge across the turbulent river, so he constructed a log toll bridge. The community was originally know as Taylor's Bridge, then changed to  Eagle Rock.

The name was derived from an actual rock 7 miles upstream. Those who traveled along the river to access the ferry discovered an isolated basalt island in the Snake River that was the nesting site for approx. 20 eagles. A small community, Payne, was built near this location on the railroad track.  Today, no eagles nest on this rock but, the location is visited mostly by fishermen.

Later, the town voted to re-name itself to Idaho Falls, after the rapids that existed below the bridge in what was then called Black Canyon. This name was changed to Idaho Falls was officially declared on August 26, 1891.

As the veins of gold played out, miners and transients abandoned the area. Those who remained turned to farming and irrigated the arid land. Water turned the desert into rich agricultural land, which now yields most of the state's potatoes, grain, and other crops.

When I exhausted the falls with pictures we headed up river and found the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Freeman Park.  All the 251 names of Idahoans who lost their lives in Vietnam are listed on the sculpture. This memorial was built to convey the gratitude and appreciation of the men and women who served during this difficult time.  The structure is constructed of a carbon steel framework covered with stainless steel sheeting. The 24 foot inverted V is intended to convey the discord and controversy that surrounded this war. The bronze bas relief sculpture, sculpted by the designer Tom Cristwell, depicts a young woman wrapped in the US flag, an American Soldier and an American Prisoner of War all beneath the extended wings of an eagle as a representative of freedom.

Next stop was a house we lived in on John Adams Parkway, and the prior apartment on St. Clair.  Between the two I found the Church where Adrienne was baptized.  Unfortunately the doors were locked so we couldn’t get in, but I was able to get a couple of shots of the inside through a window.

Back in the car and off to the Creators of the Moon National Monument, with an unplanned stop at EBR-1.  Experimental Breeder Reactor 1 is a decommissioned research reactor and U.S. National Historic Landmark located in the desert about 18 miles southeast of Arco, Idaho. At 1:50 pm on December 20, 1951 it became the world's first electricity-generating nuclear power plant when it produced sufficient electricity to illuminate four 200-watt light bulbs It subsequently generated sufficient electricity to power its building, and continued to be used for experimental purposes until it was decommissioned in 1964.

The design purpose of EBR-I was not to produce electricity but instead to validate nuclear physics theory which suggested that a breeder reactor could be possible. In 1953, experiments revealed the reactor was producing additional fuel during fission, thus confirming the hypothesis. However, on November 29, 1955, the reactor at EBR-I suffered a partial meltdown during a coolant flow test. The flow test was trying to determine the cause of unexpected reactor responses to changes in coolant flow. It was subsequently repaired for further experiments, which determined that thermal expansion of the fuel rods and the thick plates supporting the fuel rods was the cause of the unexpected reactor response.

Besides generating the world's first electricity from atomic energy, EBR-I was also the world's first breeder reactor and the first to use plutonium fuel to generate. EBR-1's initial purpose was to prove Enrico Fermi's fuel breeding principle, a principle that showed a nuclear reactor producing more fuel atoms than consumed. Along with generating electricity, EBR-1 would also prove this principle. EBR-I was deactivated in 1964 and replaced with a new reactor, EBR-II. Landmark status for EBR-I was granted by President Lyndon Johnson and Glenn T. Seaborg on August 25, 1966.  It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.  The site has been open to the public since 1976, but is only open between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Also on display at the site are two prototype reactors from the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Project of the 1950s.

While I enjoyed the tour of the plant, Dave sat in the 1950’s style waiting room and viewed the TV production tour of the plant.


Continuing west we were amazed at the site of acres and acres of blackness of the Craters of the Moon National Park, the largest lava field of the Snake River Plain, covers about 994 sq miles where more than 60 mappable lava flows erupted from eight fissure systems. About 25 cinder cones up to 272 yards high formed primarily along a 28 miles along segment of the Great Rift, the principal 1  5 miles wide fissure system that trends NW-SE through Craters of the Moon National Monument. Craters of the Moon lies at the NW part of the eastern Snake River Plain.  The northern part of the field laps up against the White Knob and Pioneer Mountains. The lava field was formed during eight eruptive episodes between about 15,000 and 2000 years ago separated by quiescent periods up to about 3000 years in duration. This contrasts with other Snake River Plain lava fields, which were formed during single eruptive episodes of relatively short duration. A complex assemblage of basaltic volcanic features is found at Craters of the Moon, and cinder cones are common, in contrast to other Snake River Plain lava fields.

We started at the Visitor Center to view the informative exhibits, films and park overview from a ranger, and then headed off on the driving loop around the park.  There were some roads that were closed due to construction on the roads.  The roads in this park were newly graded and perfect for driving on. The weather was cold and windy so we bundled up to take some of the trail walks.  It was fascinating to see all the different type of lava formations and look inside of fissures and splatter cones (small volcanoes).   But due to the high winds we opted out of some walks. 

After our fascinating tour of the lava fields we were off to Elko, NV for the night.  Had dinner in a nice local restaurant where the food was fantastic and the service was really great.  The bus-boy cleared dirty dishes off the table with concert timing.  I had a glass of wine that made me really sleepy so it's back to the hotel and bed!

It’s late and to make this short God Bless everyone we encountered today and all my friends.
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Comments

bonnwl6
bonnwl6 on

Hello Patty and David, Long time no talk. You are seeing a lot of the USA and getting many wonderful pictures. Looks like sooo much fun. Do you remember me telling you I would love to meet up with you in Idaho Falls, well as per usual my plans fell through due to another man. I had met someone new on the Catholic match web site who seemed to be a very good man. He has or said he has a cabin in Idaho falls and was going to let me stay in it while he worked in Boise. He said he has 2 jobs and it would be nice to visit with me and you all and venture into Yellowstone together. As soon as I made definate plans he disappered????? the Donald thing also is lost to another closer woman????? oh well one of these days things may work out for me. In the mean time I am just doing my regular stuff taking care of William after school and working etc. I am sooo glad you are having such wonderful trip and that I can continue to keep up with you via this travel pod. You are doing an outstanding job of writing and sharing your pictures. Hope we can get together soon. I miss you. Bonnie

pndcadena
pndcadena on

Dave and I talke about you all the time. We had such a great visit back at the begining of this trip. But as all good things must come to an end our adventure is about to end too. (:<) We have so many memories to talk about for many months to come. Take care and I pray that God will bless you soon with your hearts desire.

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