Evel Knievel Snake River Monument

Good morning, armchair explorers!

Let us commemorate summer with this picture.

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Snake River Canyon in Idaho is a beautiful site worth sidetracking for in its own right; the path going along the edge with its platforms jutting out over the canyon walls gives visitors optimal views of the blue green water stretching to either side. A long bridge with a pedestrian walk is also available, so visitors can cross to the other side and take more pictures of the canyon from a slightly different angle so their Facebook album viewers will hardly be able to tell them apart.

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And now for something (seemingly) completely different… today, we tribute an American legend: Evel Knievel.

For our younger or not-as-informed readers, Evel Knievel was an American daredevil, the height of his career being in the 60s and 70s. He is still the Guinness Book of World Records holder for “Survivor of the Most Broken Bones in a Lifetime,” having suffered approximately 433 bone fractures throughout his time.

Being a daredevil simply means you are known for attempting things that the average, self-preserving human would not dream of doing. This does not mean you are necessarily successful all the time, hence the 433 bone fractures.

Now, connecting these superficially-unrelated thoughts… one of the most notorious failures of Knievel’s career was his attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon using a steam-powered rocket motorcycle, the Skycycle X-2.

Not far from the jump site is the EVEL KNIEVEL SNAKE RIVER JUMP MONUMENT- 2015 Nielsen Point Pl., Twin Falls, ID.

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Knievel’s jump failed. His safety parachute malfunctioned, opening during the takeoff. Fortunately, he landed on the riverbank; if he had landed in the river, the parachute and all of his safety paraphernalia may have gotten too heavy and drowned him.

It seems to me they didn’t think that parachute thing through nearly enough.

Despite this, the people of Idaho were proud of him for having made the attempt, and to that end this monument was erected. It has obviously faded a bit over time, but it reads:

“ROBERT ‘EVEL’ KNIEVEL
EXPLORER
MOTORCYCLIST
AND DAREDEVIL
ATTEMPTED A
MILE-LONG LEAP
OF THE SNAKE RIVER CANYON
ON SEPT 8, 1974
EMPLOYING A UNIQUE
SKYCYCLE.
THE LARGE DIRT RAMP IS
VISIBLE APPROX. 2 MILES
ON THE SOUTH RIDGE
OF THE CANYON.
DONATED
TO THE COMMUNITY
BY SUNSET MEMORIAL.”

It reads a bit like a gravestone, but Knievel did not die here. He died in 2007 of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (bad lungs, for the layman; either he smoked too many cigarettes in his time or hung around too many coal or other airborne particles).

Sure enough, the dirt ramp is visible in the distance. It’s easier to see if you cross under the nearby bridge to the other side.

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That little, roundish lump along the top right edge is the dirt ramp. Apparently, you can go to it, but I heard rumors of police using the area for a shooting range, so I figured I’d admire it from afar.

If you find yourself in the Snake River Canyon area, be sure to take a moment to remember a man who made history here, even if it wasn’t necessarily as impressive as he intended for it to be.

Until next time, dahlings…

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