As American Falls fades from my life, I find myself vainly attempting to lock its memory to a position of tenderness and beauty–backdropped by allergy ridden summers and iced over winters; of cleaning steamy french fry furnaces one hour, and frigid potato freezers the next.
Overlooking southeastern Idaho’s Snake River–tamed and fattened by a massive dam, illuminated by brilliant sunsets–American Falls seems to be dying a death that is as slow as it is unspectacular. The local businesses of the past are all but gone, devoured by monsters like Walmart–25 miles from town. Agriculture, the primary source of the town’s economy has also felt the corporate bite. Family farms that made Idaho known for their “Famous Potatoes” are disappearing in favor of giant farms controlled by international conglomerates. A future coal gasification plant for fertilizer production is seen by many as the town’s best hope.
I moved to Idaho with my family when I was ten. (The joke is) none of my family members who chose to stay in Idaho got out alive. The economy, agricultural pollution, the wind and the cold make this town a place not for the weak or faint hearted. In spite of the challenges that face American Falls, people make lots of babies. They go to churches, go to bars, and many, while still young and independent– just go; as did the town’s namesake–destroyed by the very dam that irrigates the crops that feed us. –Steve Davis 2011
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