Streams of Life: Water in the American West
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Teton River, a tributary of Henry's Fork of the Snake River, drops from an oval basin at the west foot of Teton peaks.
Teton Dam was built with unanimous support from Idaho politicians. The $103 million dam was built to hold 288,250 acre-feet of water. Construction was just completed in 1976 when the right abutment ruptured. A fury of mud poured out and the dam was destroyed from the inside out. Waves 20 feet in height killed 11 people, destroyed 100,000 acres of farms, thousands of buildings, 16,000 heads of livestock, flushed toxic chemicals from the soil and spread it, and forced 25,000 people to leave their homes. The waters were finally contained at American Falls Dam. Parts of the dam still remain as a monument to the wreckage.
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