Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wallula Gap and Prime Farmland

Last week I posted a bit on the artist John Mix Stanley and Wallula Gap HERE. That very evening I spotted this juice at the grocery named for Wallula Gap along with a picture of the gap on the back of the bottle.

Wallula Juice

Wallula Gap played a critical role during the Missoula Floods. On multiple occasions a lake the size of one of the Great Lakes formed behind an ice dam in western Montana. Once the lake got deep enough, the ice dam floated and collapsed and the entire lake drained in a matter of couple of days. The flow of water exceeded 10 times the flow of all of the rivers in the world combined. The flood swept across eastern Washington and was held back by the narrow gap through the Horse Heaven Hills at Wallula Gap. The water filled the entire gap carving the steep cliffs of the gap seen today.

The gap is an impressive landscape to drive through or hike along the rim. But the gap played a huge role in shaping much of today's eastern Washington landscape. The flood water backed up forming the short lived Lake Lewis. The lake was 1,000 feet deep near the gap and covered the entire Pasco Basin, Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley and extended north past Moses Lake and east up the Snake River past Lewiston, Idaho.

Lake Lewis (Wikipedia Commons with markups added)

Silt carried by the flood waters was deposited over much of the area covered by the lake. Some of the silt was subsequently eroded in areas where currents flowed rapidly as the lake drained, or by later floods, or by wind erosion. But the richness of the soils underlying much of the farmland of the Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley and Pasco Basin is the result of the narrow Wallula Gap. Hence the name Wallula Organics pays homage to the geology of the area and the role Wallula Gap played in formation of the outstanding soils of area.   

1 comment:

Stone-Loke said...

Interesting. I forgot about the Wallula Gap. We'll definitely plan to stop by there on our next road trip (coming soon, around the first of May).