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Thomas Moran, Shoshone Falls on the Snake River (detail), 1900, Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Like Chasm of the Colorado, Moran's Shoshone Falls is a grand statement about the power of water, as the turbulent Snake River plunges more than 200 feet over a serrated edge. Thunderclouds, dark and threatening, move swiftly along the horizon, and the "roar" of the water is almost palpable. Ironically, at the time of Moran's visit, that roar was about to be significantly reduced. During the coming decades, an enormous reclamation project that tapped the Snake River as a source of irrigation water was set in motion. Shoshone Falls would never again appear as Moran painted it. When shown at the Pan-American Exposition, the painting was awarded a silver medal, but his last large western panorama remained unsold at the time of his death. Taste and the times had changed.


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