[87] The first dam constructed for the project was Minidoka Dam in 1904; its power plant began operating in 1909, producing 7 MW of electricity. She writes that this particular route was controlled by Mormons who had "built bridges where they were not needed-most unmercifully fleecing the poor emigrants". [45] Throughout much of the Snake River Plain and Hells Canyon, excessive sediment is also a recurring problem. Eventually, two large Native American groups controlled most of the Snake River: the Nez Perce, whose territory stretched from the southeastern Columbia Plateau into northern Oregon and western Idaho, and the Shoshone, who occupied the Snake River Plain both above and below Shoshone Falls. About 6 million years ago, the Salmon River Mountains and Blue Mountains at the far end of the plain began to rise; the river cut through these mountains as well, forming Hells Canyon. [52] At Anatone, Washington, downstream of the confluence with the Salmon, one of the Snake's largest tributaries, the mean discharge is 34,560 cu ft/s (979 m3/s). These two forks of the Snake River come together at the base of the Menan Buttes. [107] Because much of the electricity in the Northwest comes from dams, removing the four dams would create a hole in the energy grid that would not be immediately replaceable. Strike Reservoir. The western Snake River Plain sits in a fault-bounded graben while the eastern Snake River Plain (ESRP) is a large structural downwarp that formed due to the weight of the overlying volcanic rocks. Canadian explorer David Thompson first recorded the Native American name of the Snake River as Shawpatin when he arrived at its mouth by boat in 1800. [108] Navigation on the lower Snake would also suffer, as submerged riffles, rapids and islands would be exposed by the removal of the dams. The explorer Wilson Price Hunt of the Astor Expedition named the river as Mad River. [62] A smallpox epidemic brought by European explorers and fur trappers was responsible for wiping out much of the Shoshone east of the Rocky Mountains, but the Shoshone continued to occupy the Snake River Plain. Several ships were built specifically to transport ore from there to Lewiston: these included Imnaha, Mountain Gem, and Norma. Explorers misinterpreted it to represent a snake, giving the river its present-day name.[56]. [40] However, fish passage is limited to the stretch below Hells Canyon. The Hells Canyon Project was built and maintained by Idaho Power Company starting in the 1940s, and was the second of the three major water projects on the river. As a result, the Shoshone centered on a trading economy. These baby salmon then are transported by ship, bypassing the dams. About 14,500 years ago, pluvial Lake Bonneville in the Great Salt Lake area, formed in the last glacial period, spilled catastrophically down the Portneuf River into the Snake in an event known as the Bonneville flood. The Snake River is a major river of the greater Pacific Northwest region in the United States. On the southwest side a divide separates the Snake watershed from Oregon's Harney Basin, which is endorheic. There are many reasons why Sockeye Salmon in the Snake River are reduced in number. The removal of several dams on the lower Snake River has been proposed, in order to restore some of the river's once-tremendous salmon runs. In 1810, Andrew Henry, along with a party of fur trappers, discovered the Henrys Fork of the Snake River, which is now named after him. On the north the Snake River watershed is bounded by the Red Rock River, a tributary of the Beaverhead River, which flows into the Jefferson River and into the Missouri River, part of the Gulf of Mexico drainage basin. These floods pooled behind the Cascade Range into enormous lakes and spilled over the northern drainage divide of the Snake River watershed, carving deep canyons through the Palouse Hills including the Palouse River canyon and Palouse Falls. Hell's Canyon Dam blocks passage to the entire upper Snake River. Much of the area along the river, within a few miles of its banks, is irrigated farmland, especially in its middle and lower course. One crossing the trail made over the Snake River was near the present-day site of Glenns Ferry. When the Teton Range uplifted about 9 million years ago along a detachment fault running north–south through the central Rockies,[21] the river maintained its original course and cut through the southern end of the mountains, forming the Snake River Canyon of Wyoming. [39] Most of the Snake River basin consists of wide, arid plains and rolling hills, bordered by high mountains. There are 14 fish species found in the Upper Snake region that do not occur elsewhere in the Columbia's watershed, but which do occur in Bonneville freshwater ecoregion of western Utah, part of the Great Basin and related to the prehistoric Lake Bonneville. [3], Agricultural runoff from farms and ranches in the Snake River Plain and many other areas has severely damaged the ecology of the river throughout the 20th century. [54] In the 18th century, Shoshone territory extended beyond the Snake River Plain, extending over the Continental Divide into the upper Missouri River watershed and even further north into Canada. [43] Fertilizer, manure and other chemicals and pollutants washed into the river greatly increase the nutrient load, especially of phosphorus, fecal coliforms and nitrogen. (The dams can hurt juvenile baby sockeye salmon with their powerful tides and currents, which suck the baby salmon down.) The highest recorded flow was 312,000 cu ft/s (8,800 m3/s) on June 19, 1974. [12] However, in the lower and middle portions of the Snake River watershed, several native species have been severely impacted by agriculture practices and the resulting non-native species supported by them. Salmon were the mainstay of the Nez Perce and most of the other tribes below Shoshone Falls. The WWF placed the ecoregion boundary about 50 kilometres (31 mi) downriver from Shoshone Falls in order to include the Big Wood River (the main tributary of the Malad River) in the Upper Snake ecoregion, because the Wood River is biologically distinct from the rest of the downriver Snake. In the summer of 2006, the Snake River reportedly only had 3 sockeye salmon that returned to their spawning grounds. [11][14][15][18], At the halfway point in Hells Canyon, in one of the most remote and inaccessible sections of its course, the Snake River is joined from the east by its largest tributary, the Salmon River. Product details. [31] In places, water exits from rivers at rates of nearly 600 cubic feet per second (17 m3/s). Check flight prices and hotel availability for your visit. This map … A map of the Columbia River watershed with the Snake River highlighted in yellow and the Columbia River highlighted in blue. Many rivers and streams flowing from the north side of the plain sink into the aquifer instead of flowing into the Snake River, a group of watersheds called the lost streams of Idaho. [67] Many of these later explorers were original members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition who had returned to map and explore the area in greater detail. Grand Teton is the highest point in the Snake River watershed, reaching 13,775 feet (4,199 m) in elevation. Another possible upstream passage solution is the Whooshh Fish Transport System. It was constructed in 1967 and generates 450 MW. However, in the high Rockies of Wyoming, in the upper Jackson Hole area, the average precipitation is over 30 inches (760 mm), and snowfall averages 252 inches (6,400 mm). It spans a length of 1,078 miles from its source to its mouth, and it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River. Headwaters of the North Fork are at Big Springs near Island Park, Idaho, while Jackson Lake is at the head of the South Fork. Accompanied by text: A preliminary report on the geology of part of the Snake River Canyon, Oregon and Idaho (15 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.) [26][28][29], The massive amounts of sediment deposited by the Lake Bonneville Floods in the Snake River Plain also had a lasting effect on most of the middle Snake River. For other uses, see, Major river in the northwestern United States, Lewis River, Shoshone River, Mad River, Saptin River, Yam-pah-pa, Lewis Fork. [95], Overall, these combined efforts have had good success. Get directions, maps, and traffic for Snake River, WA. After destroying the dam, salmon populations noticeably recovered. Pollutant levels in Hells Canyon upstream of the Salmon River confluence, including that of water temperature, dissolved nutrients, and sediment, are required to meet certain levels. Irrigation dams include American Falls Dam, Minidoka Dam, and C.J. They also referred to the Shoshone Indians as the "Snake Indians", which became the present-day name of the river. This mountainous gorge forms the border between Oregon and Idaho, and part of Washington. Another place where pioneers crossed the Snake was further upstream, at a place called "Three Island Crossing", near the mouth of the Boise River. In the 1890s, a huge copper deposit was discovered at Eureka Bar in Hells Canyon. Be sure to use the arrows to scroll to 2022. Agricultural lands and their resulting runoff have also had a significant impact on the success rate of migrating fish. The high hydraulic conductivity of the mostly-basalt rocks in the plain led to the formation of the Snake River Aquifer, one of the most productive aquifers in North America. [34][35] Above the confluence, the Snake is slightly longer than the Columbia—1,078 miles (1,735 km)[5] compared to 928 miles (1,493 km)[36]—and its drainage basin is slightly larger—4% bigger than the upstream Columbia River watershed.[6][37]. Still, from the 1860s to the 1940s, steamboats traveled on the Snake River from its mouth at the Columbia River to near the mouth of the Imnaha River in lower Hells Canyon. A 40-mile-long (64 km) lake, known as American Falls Lake, formed behind the barrier. [96], It is found that over 60% of fisherman are in favor of dam removal on the Snake River. Irrigators in the Snake River Plain would likely need to allow less water into the Snake River during low flow in order to create a current in the four lower reservoirs, and recreation and tourism would likely benefit.[109]. This place is situated in Fort Nelson-Liard Regional District, British Columbia, Canada, its geographical coordinates are 59° 2' 0" North, 122° 26' 0" West and its original name (with diacritics) is Snake River. Grain, mostly wheat, is the main product shipped from the Snake, and nearly all of it is exported internationally from the lower Columbia River ports. People have been living along the Snake River for at least 11,000 years. Rising in several forks in the Clearwater Mountains of central Idaho, the Clearwater and Salmon River watersheds are nearly undeveloped with the enormous exception of Dworshak Dam on the North Fork Clearwater River. Population density is based on the Earth at Night satellite imagery, cities white with red fringe, and darker grays for rural inhabited areas. [102], The headwaters of the Snake River and the high mountains elsewhere in the watershed were historically heavily forested. The Salmon River combines with the Snake River and shortly after, the trip ends. Sophistication varied from reed boats pulled by Indians on horse back at Snake Fort, Fort Boise, as described by Narcissa Whitman[74] in 1836 to an electric operated ferry, the Swan Falls Ferry,[75] at Swan Falls Dam of the early 20th century. The lake was stable and survived for nearly 30,000 years. The rest of the Plateau area is characterized by low hills, dry lakes, and an arid, nearly desert climate. When the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed westwards into the Snake River watershed in 1805, they first gave it the name Lewis River, Lewis Fork or Lewis's Fork, as Meriwether Lewis was the first of their group to sight the river. The Snake River watershed includes parts of Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and many other national and state parks. The elevation of the Snake River is 358 feet (109 m) when it joins the Columbia River. Barging on the Snake River is a big part of that. After the first irrigation dams on the river began operation in the first decade of the 20th century, much of the arable land in a strip a few miles wide along the Snake River was cultivated or turned to pasture, and agricultural return flows began to pollute the Snake. [97] With a channel about 5 feet (1.5 m) deeper than the Mississippi River system, the Columbia and Snake rivers can float barges twice as heavy. River Map. Since many juvenile salmon perish at each dam while swimming out to the ocean, massive ships filter and collect these baby salmon by size and take them out to the ocean for a ride, where they can be guaranteed to make it alive to saltwater. In Hells Canyon, a cascade of dams produce hydroelectricity from the river's steep fall over a comparatively short distance. [30] The aquifer filled to hold nearly 100,000,000 acre feet (120 km3) of water, underlying about 10,000 square miles (26,000 km2) in a plume 1,300 feet (400 m) thick. The Snake River originates in Wyoming and arcs across southern Idaho before turning north along the Idaho-Oregon border. Below the tourist town of Jackson, the river turns west and flows through Snake River Canyon, cutting through the Snake River Range and into eastern Idaho. The Minidoka Irrigation Project of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, created with the passage of the Reclamation Act of 1902, involved the diversion of Snake River water into the Snake River Plain upstream of Shoshone Falls in order to irrigate approximately 1,100,000 acres (4,500 km2) in the Snake River Plain and store 4,100,000 acre feet (5.1 km3) of water in Snake River reservoirs. Map shows early twentieth century Idaho canals, rivers, reservoirs, creeks, lakes, and lands along the Snake River. Dredging work was also done throughout the length of the navigation channel to facilitate ship passage. The Columbia River drops 2,690 feet (820 m) from source to mouth, while the Snake drops over 8,500 feet (2,600 m) in elevation over a length more than 200 miles (320 km) shorter. [80] A commonly traveled route was from Wallula, Washington, 120 miles (190 km) downstream of the Snake River's mouth, upstream to Lewiston. [20] Separate volcanic activity formed the northwestern portion of the plain, an area far from the path of the hotspot which now lies beneath Yellowstone National Park. The watershed of the Grande Ronde in northeastern Oregon is also largely undeveloped. The river supported species including chinook salmon, coho salmon, and sockeye salmon, as well as steelhead, white sturgeon, and Pacific lamprey. [26][27], As the Bonneville Floods rushed down the Snake River, the Missoula Floods occurred in the same period, but originating farther north. Other products barged on the lower Snake River include peas, lentils, forest products, and petroleum. The basin ranges from semi-desert to alpine climates, providing habitat for hundreds of species of plants. They also made note of the "Snake Indians" who lived along the river, who were actually the Shoshonetribe, and learned that the Nati… [106]) Agricultural runoff and water held in reservoirs higher upstream on the Snake warm its waters as it flows through the Snake River Plain, so as the Snake meets the Clearwater, its average temperature is much higher. Although the aquifer has maintained its level, it has become increasingly laced with contaminants. The Nez Perce also were involved in trade with the Flathead tribe to the north and other middle Columbia River tribes. Even later, American fur trappers scouted the area for beaver streams, but Canadian trappers from the British Hudson's Bay Company were by now a major competitor. For miles on either side of the river, flood waters stripped away soils and scoured the underlying basalt bedrock, transforming the region into channeled scablands[24] forming the Snake River Canyon and creating Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls, Crane Falls, Swan Falls and other waterfalls along the Idaho section of the river. Between here and Hells Canyon, the first dam on the Snake, Swan Falls Dam, was built in 1901. [49] However, at Buhl, Idaho, only about 50 miles (80 km) downstream, the river's flow decreases to 4,908 cu ft/s (139.0 m3/s) because of agricultural diversions and seepage. Prehistoric Native Americans lived along the Snake starting more than 11,000 years ago. During low water, algae blooms occur throughout the calm stretches of the river, depleting its oxygen supply. Above the falls, life was significantly different. South Fork of the Snake River Boat Access Map. [25] Much of the water lost by the Snake River as it transects the plain issues back into the river at its western end, by way of many artesian springs. Current maps show the head of the Snake to be about 3 miles north of Phelps Pass, at a point on the Continental Divide inside Yellowstone National Park. John Colter in 1808 was the first to sight the upper headwaters of the Snake River, including the Jackson Hole area. [77] However, most of the steamboats only sailed from the river's mouth to Lewiston, located at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers. [57] In the eastern Snake River Plain there is some evidence of Clovis, Folsom, and Plano cultures dating back over 10,000 years ago. Through Hell's Canyon you'll encounter set after set of large, voluminous rapids, Nez-Perce petroglyphs, homesteads, and wildlife of all sorts. [94], Another interesting recovery method conservationists and biologists are using is called Fish Transportation. The Columbia Snake River System is the top wheat export gateway in the United States, moving about half the nation’s wheat to world markets. [76], Unlike the Columbia River, it was far more difficult for steamboats to navigate on the Snake. The dam was named for a 3-mile-wide (4.8 km) bend in the Snake River, shaped like an oxbow. In the upper parts of the watershed, however, the river flows through an area with a distinct alpine climate. That depends largely upon the location of your home. On the western extremity for a short stretch the Continental Divide separates the Snake watershed from the Bighorn River, a tributary of the Yellowstone River, which the Snake begins near. Finally, a third cascade of dams, from Hells Canyon to the mouth, facilitates navigation. [102], The Snake River watershed includes a diversity of vegetation zones both past and present. Lifestyles along the Snake River varied widely. [citation needed]. 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