The phenomenon of flooding valleys

Inspired by How do you make a lake?

In a couple of movies I’ve seen recently (I won’t name them so as to not spoil them), flooding a valley somewhere in Appalachia or similar to make a source for hydroelectricity is a part of the plot. This is treated rather dramatically, emphasizing the fact that flora and fauna (as well as small towns or localities [and the secrets within]) are buried under a great volume of water.

How common is this practice? What are some commonly-known examples of valley-flooding? Are there ever excavations in such lakes, with treasure or general exploration being the object? I’d love a little background on this so as to better understand this.

Oh, my goodness. Google Hoover Dam, Grand Coulee Dam, The Tennessee Valley Authority, Glen Canyon Dam, and those are just some of the big ones. Hundreds, maybe thousands of valleys large and small have been flooded behind dams and made into lakes.

Don’t forget the cause célèbre of valley-flooding: Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley in California.

Whenever a dam is built, a reservoir is required to store the water. That reservoir is created by flooding a valley or a gorge. The largest, the latest and the probabbly the most famous case being the 3 Gorges dam in China.
In India, to cater to the grwoing power needs of the country, Hydroelectric power stations (basically dams) are being built in a number of places. In some cases the valleys which are being flooded are actually inhabited and are small townships, from where the people are relocated.

You can still go out in places in Miss. behind the big impoundments (Sardis, Enid, Arkabutla) upon low water and see the old chimneys, roads, house places etc.

As has been previously stated, these landowners were moved and compensated for their land.

And just so you don’t think you have the monopoly on flooding valleys to provide water here’s a particularly sensitive European example …

Wales - the land lost was Welsh but the water went to England.

The original alignment of Interstate 5 between L.A. and Bakersfield ran right through the valley where Pyramid Lake is now. What makes it interesting is that Pyramid Lake was already being planned when the old highway was built…but it was cheaper to build it that way. (And we wonder what happens to all our state highway funds…)

When the Shokan Reservoir was built to supply drinking water to New York City, nine towns were wiped out.

Read more here. You’ll see that when the water is low in the reservoir you can see the stone foundations of old houses.
“A sensational feature was the removal from thirty-two cemeteries of two thousand eight hundred bodies or skeletons, including those of many soldiers of the Revolution, and their reinterment in new pine boxes in neighboring graveyards”

In 1968 or thereabouts I went hunting on some land that within a few months was all underwater. In late 1963 I broke in the 500 miles on a new MGB by driving the nearly 100 mile circuit around Nashville of what is/was Old Hickory Boulevard, every night for a week. Part of that drive went through a section of Davidson County that is now underwater.

The flooding was gradual. Percy Priest Dam on the Stones River took many years to construct, and properties in the flood zone were purchased for the project and evacuated. Houses, barns, stores and other structures were left standing, but many others were demolished or moved to other locations. Roadways were left intact but barricaded at what would become water’s edge. I can’t remember how long the flooding process took. Weeks, I’m thinking.

Later, in the early 1970’s, this area of Middle Tennessee had substantial flooding, to the point that Old Hickory Lake (on the Cumberland) had to be be drained by opening the flood gates. That caused a serious flooding of the river far downstream of the dam, including some residential areas. I remember driving around one weekend surveying the extent of the flooding.

The weirdest yarn I have about the Percy Priest flooding is that a work buddy came by my house one Sunday in 1968 (maybe it was 1969, I forget) and invited me to go water skiing on Priest with him. We had made a pretty good tour of a largish section of the lake and were a good 500 yards from any shore when he suddenly cut power on his boat and I sank into the water as he paddled away from a big section of floating limbs and such. To keep from sinking (I was wearing a life jacket) I used one of the skis as a paddle and was paddling along when all of a sudden I began to feel what I thought was a school of piranhas (yeah, I know) eating my legs. I began thrashing about, scared to the point I was pissing myself, when suddenly the ski I was using as a paddle struck the bottom of the lake. I put my legs down and stood up! I was in knee-deep water! And I was still hndreds of yards from the nearest bank. Jesus.

Over the years, no telling how much has been dumped into these lakes in terms of cars, appliances, bodies, you name it. It’s hard to see your hand underwater, and yet there are divers who will routinely search the waters whenever there’s a swimmer or boater who goes missing out there.

I’ll stop now.

After writing what I did above from memory, I found this link which indicates that my memory is a bit foggy. It may have been 1967 when I did the hunting, and the flooding process may have taken more like months.

This is a link to a project in Turkey where the new dam is not only forcing out the locals, but also submerging ancient ruins - there was quite a lot of publicity about it a couple of years ago… article about new Turkish dam
I’m sure in England there are stories of complete villages which have been submerged, the remains of which appear during periods of extremely low water levels - and at least one where the church bell is supposed to still toll underwater!

When the Aswan Dam was built, it flood an entire country:

And huge amounts of ancient relics were flooded as well.

This might be the one yuo’re thinking of Meurglys but I’ve heard that story about pretty much every reservoir in the British Isles, I guess it makes the flooding of the valley seem that much more tragic.

Sorry, I haven’t read your links. But IIRC the Nile Valley is suffering now because the annual flooding has been stopped and nutrients are no longer being deposited by the river onto farmland.

I have a National Geographic that shows how they Egyptian government moved some of the ancient sculptures.

In New England, the construction of the Quabbin reservoir flooded several small towns. Note that the Quabbin serves Boston and the small towns were approximately 80 miles west of Boston. And the only recreation allowed on the Quabbin is fishing – you can’t even use it for canoeing or sailing.

10s of thousands, if not 100s of thousands of people were displaced by the 3 Gorges Dam. Actually, on site the number it gave was over 1 million people.

From this site:

I just read an article about this - possibly in Time magazine? Something recent. Very interesting - article showed a current photograph and then a painting from the 1800s of what is likely the same area. All under water now.

The biggest example (by far) occurred when the glaciers from the last ice age melted. Sea level rose by 400 ft or so and the entire earth was transformed. Very few if any towns were lost, but only because they did not exist. If climate warming continues, it may be possible to water sky down Bourbon Street.