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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Life Before the Dam

American Falls:
The picture on the front of this post card is of the American Falls, a landmark waterfall on the Snake River, named after a party of American trappers whose boat went over the falls. The Wilson Price Hunt expedition in 1811 camped at the falls one night and the expedition of John C. Frémont was here in 1843. The Oregon Trail passed north of town, through the present-day reservoir. Power plants first sprang up at the falls in 1901.
American Falls was the first town in the U.S. to be entirely relocated; it was moved in 1925 to facilitate construction of the nearby American Falls Dam. The old town site sits at the bottom of the reservoir, northeast of the present city. A larger dam was completed in 1978, downstream from the deteriorating 1927 structure, which was later demolished. The first dam, designed by Frank A. Banks, at American Falls was begun in 1925 by the Bureau of Reclamation and was completed in 1927. The river was temporarily impounded while the new concrete structure was put in place.

The Oregon Short Line Railroad:
The railroad bridge, pictured in this post card travelling over the river, had to be raised to allow for crossing the new reservoir of water that would build up behind the dam. It belonged to the Oregon Short Line Railroad.

The Oregon Short Line Railroad was a railroad in the states of Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Montana and Oregon. The line was organized as the Oregon Short Line Railway on April 14, 1881 as a subsidiary of Union Pacific Railway. Union Pacific intended the line to be the shortest route ("the short line") from Wyoming to Oregon. In 1889 the line merged with the Utah & Northern Railway and 6 other small railroads to become the Oregon Short Line and Utah Northern Railway. Following the bankruptcy of Union Pacific, the line was taken into receivership and reorganized as the Oregon Short Line Railroad.

The Oregon Short Line was independent for a short period of time until October 1898 when the newly reformed Union Pacific Railroad took control of a majority of the board of directors. In 1938, Union Pacific began consolidating operations and leased for operation a number of its subsidiaries including the Oregon Short Line. The railroad operated under the lease until December 30, 1987, when the OSL was fully merged into the Union Pacific Railroad.
This post card was printed by Curt Otto Teich’s company using the C. T. American Art name of the printing process. The number on the card (R-88257) indicates (using a bit of mathematical interpolation) that the year of publication is 1922. This is good news, because the company that published the card:
Gray News Company was only in operation from 1906 to 1922. They were centered in Salt Lake City, Utah. They were known as a publisher and distributor of regional lithographic view-cards. So in my catalogue I have put the date of this post card at 1922.

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