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The Story Behind Idaho’s Underwater “Ghost Town”

Old powerhouse located in American Falls, Idaho.

About three hours east of Boise — and 30 feet underwater — you’ll find the sunken ghost town of American Falls, Idaho. Since it’s located at the bottom of the American Falls Reservoir, don’t plan on visiting anytime soon. Although the Oregon Trail once passed over this section of the Snake River, you’d have to be Jacques Cousteau to see it safely today.

While people often boat above the sunken city’s underwater streets, there are few reports of paranormal activity in the area. Unlike Pyramid Lake in Nevada, swimmers aren’t being pulled below by mysterious assailants like water babies. Similarly, there are no reports of anyone perishing when the area was flooded.

Ultimately, American Falls is only a ghost town in as far as it was abandoned.

However, you can’t help but wonder. Could there have been any stubborn residents who refused to move and ended up drowning when the reservoir was filled? Were any graves disrupted in the process, disturbing the dead? Depending on who you ask, the jury is still out when it comes to the haunting of this underwater ghost town.

The only part of the sunken city that’s visible from shore is the top of the Oneida grain elevator. But every once and awhile, the water levels drop due to drought. It is in these rare times that the bones of the former city surface, and adventuring ghost hunters of every stripe can creep through the city’s crypt-like streets.

How to Move a Whole City

Of course, the current Power County town of American Falls sits just outside the Pocatello metropolitan area. The southeast Idaho city was painstakingly moved in 1925 to make way for the construction of the American Falls Dam and reservoir. Many buildings were literally lifted and hauled just yards away. The whole process took weeks to complete.

While moving the whole city back then was quite a feat, moving there today is just business as usual.

Homes for Sale in American Falls, Idaho? More Like Homes For Sail!

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All joking aside for a sentence or two, it turns out this Southern Idaho city is a great place to live. Given its decent median income and a fair cost of living, it’s just one of a few small towns across the State of Idaho that future homeowners eye with interest. Compared to other cities in Idaho, real estate is rather affordable, which might be why the median age hovers around 35 years old.

Weather in American Falls: Pretty Dry for a Sunken City

The current city of American Falls is situated in a somewhat arid region with mild to moderate weather year-round. High heats hardly ever top 90 degrees, and lows rarely sink further than the realm of 20. There’s some light snow and rain fall, the latter of which most often arrives in June.

All in all, American Falls seems like an easy breezy haunt if you’re on the hunt.

Have you seen any underwater ghosts in American Falls, Idaho? Tell us your scary stories on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!

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