Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Winter Hours

We had quite a day planned yesterday, the first day that was going to be nice enough to do outdoors activities. First we were going to Yellowstone Bear World, a drive through wild animal park about 20 miles from our location. Depending on how long that took we were next going to the Teton Flood Museum in Rexburg, about 5 miles past the bears. If we were not too tired we were going to hit the Legacy of Flight Museum at the Rexburg airport.

When we decided to head north we knew were in for cold temperatures and possibly some places not being open. We guess we forgot that when we made our plans. We checked the web site for Yellowstone Bear World on the tablet and missed that it was closed and would not open until May 12th. Luckily the bears were just off of the main highway from Idaho Falls to Rexburg so we were not delayed at all so we then headed to the Teton Flood Museum.

The Teton Flood occurred on June 5, 1976 and had this happened now in today's 24 hours news cycle this event would be more well known. Neither one of us remembered this happening despite the magnitude of this event. There is a 20 minute film in the museum that is amazing. Here are the details in a nutshell.

Just 8 months after the earthen Teton Dam was completed there was a catastrophic failure resulting in 11 deaths and over 13,000 cattle and other livestock because of a poor design. The canyon walls were too porous and let water through the canyon and then into the dam collapsing the dam from within releasing 80 billion gallons of water initially creating a 10-12' high 1 mile wide wall of water down the Snake River plain. The dam was also not designed for enough capacity. The snow melt from the previous winter created 4 times the amount of water expected. The flooding spread to 10 miles wide and 120 miles down the valley.

Here is a photo of the collapse:

The flood occurred midday thus providing some notice in the valley contributing to the relatively low death total. The waters devastated the town of Wilford which was the first town hit. Then Sugar City was hit and it was almost completely destroyed. Further down the plain the damage was less but still significant in Salem, Hibbard and Rexburg. Idaho Falls had 24 hours notice and sandbagged the Snake River and limited the flooding damage. The total estimated damage, in 1976 dollars, was over $1 Billion. If that happened today this would be nonstop coverage on many networks across the globe instead of a few mentions on network news outside the immediate area.

In addition to the Flood Museum there are other displays that includes may pioneer relics, depicting the lives of early pioneers, an Idaho opal/agate collection, North American animal head collection, World War I and II items and much more. It was a really neat museum. Here is a moose head from the collection.

We next wanted to go to the Legacy of Flight Museum but we thankfully asked and it is closed for the winter so we headed back to Idaho Falls and had lunch and then walked along the Falls. We sat on the benches looking at and listening to raging waters and contemplated just how lucky we are, not even places being closed can shake our inmost calm.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

1 comment:

  1. Since we are pushing 100 down here it's hard to remember it's still winter further north. I was aware of the flood because I went to school there in 1967 and I was still in touch with people. But you are certainly correct about the changes in news coverage.