Between the Falls and Bandits is the Moon
Trip Start Jun 04, 2010
100Trip End Sep 08, 2010
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Idaho Falls owes its existence to the river and the railroad. It sits astride the mighty Snake River in Eastern Idaho, Bonneville County
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
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
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
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
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.