Uploaded 18 Jun 2009 — 34 favorites
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© Rachel Mckinnie
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Photo Info
UploadedJune 18, 2009
TakenAugust 14, 2008
MakeNikon Corporation
ModelNIKON D200
Exposure2.5 sec at f/13
FlashNo Flash
Focal Length34 mm
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

The year was 1983. In a small valley in Spanish Fork canyon, Utah, lived the little town of Thistle. In fall of the previous year it received record-breaking amounts of precipitation. Winter arrived soon after, and delivered its usual abundance of snow on top of the already saturated soil.

April brought unseasonably warm temperatures, which caused the snow to melt rapidly. Because the soil could hold no more water, small landslides started down the mountain, resting at the top of an ancient landslide. By mid-April, the mass had succumbed to the pressure, and was surging toward the canyon bottom, where the Spanish Fork River ran through. Maintenance crews worked round the clock to keep the channel open. At times, the mud flowed at a rate of 3.5 feet per hour. As it crept onto the river, it began to create a dam, which eventually rose to 220 feet high, causing the water to back up into the valley upstream. Within 5 days, the slide had created a lake over a mile long and 160 feet deep, drowning the small town of Thistle, and everything in it. Friends and family worked together to evacuate everyone safely, and they left their dreams behind.

What remains of Thistle today, is not much more than a derelict schoolhouse, a few automobiles, one house set high on a hill, and another, which is still buried in water that glows an ethereal green.

20 responses

  • Camil Seisanu

    Camil Seisanu gave props (18 Jun 2009):

    PERFECT for this photo challenge !

  • dp *

    dp * gave props (18 Jun 2009):

    Very good read about natures power. Interesting photo. dp

  • Gustavo Boyzo

    Gustavo Boyzo gave props (18 Jun 2009):


  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (18 Jun 2009):

    Wonderful entry.

  • Kevin Kabuki

    Kevin Kabuki gave props (18 Jun 2009):

    The ever elusive Rachel returns with a tale to tell no less. excellent work as always

  • Leanna Lomanski

    Leanna Lomanski gave props (19 Jun 2009):

    Wonderful capture as always and an incredible story as well........

  • J. Harris Blacklist

    J. Harris Blacklist gave props (19 Jun 2009):

    Oh yes!!! I was there, but trapped on the other side!!

  • stuart s

    stuart s   gave props (20 Jun 2009):

    Great light and comp.

  • david ong

    david ong gave props (20 Jun 2009):

    beautiful shot and great story, this deserved to be published!

  • Mark Smith

    Mark Smith gave props (23 Jun 2009):

    love this

  • Mark Smith

    Mark Smith said (23 Jun 2009):

    you are in my neck of the woods i rember going the back way over billys mtn ill have to look for this house and take some pictures of it great

  • Courtney Brown

    Courtney Brown gave props (30 Jun 2009):

    Great explanation, and awesome photograph.

  • conchita. del. mundo.

    conchita. del. mundo. gave props (30 Jun 2009):

    excellent, rachel. i remember this, and the story is really unbelievable.

  • Lêda Nardelli

    Lêda Nardelli gave props (1 Jul 2009):

    beautiful ...

  • Paul Lavallee

    Paul Lavallee gave props (7 Jul 2009):

    love the green

  • rory cobbe

    rory cobbe gave props (28 Aug 2009):

    love this girl

  • Skip Hunt

    Skip Hunt said (31 Aug 2009):

    Oh yes! :-)

  • Joerg Schlagheck

    Joerg Schlagheck gave props (2 Sep 2009):

    Wow, unbelievable and shure perfect for the theme!

  • Leanne Silva

    Leanne Silva gave props (4 Mar 2010):

    What an intriguing scene!

  • Michael Franco

    Michael Franco gave props (8 Dec 2010):

    Absolutely wonderful!

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