Dive into the Submerged Past.

The remains of hundreds of communities in the American West sit quietly below reservoir waters. Help us locate and tell the stories of these drowned towns!

Detroit, Oregon Before and After Construction of the Detroit Dam
Before: Detroit, ca. 1950, Postcard from the North Santiam Historical Society
After: Detroit, 1953, Photograph by Ben Maxwell

The Project

The Atlas of Drowned Towns is an effort to recover and interpret the histories of places lost to “river development projects” — large dams.

Explore the directory and map of drowned towns, find out more about the project and the next version of the Atlas, learn more about displaced communities, and share what you know or want to discover about these lost places!

Our Objectives

Community Focused

Emphasizes the perspectives and experiences of displaced people and their descendants.


Provides a platform by which to navigate between and make sense of the histories of these diverse communities.


Seeks to work with local historical societies, Tribal governments, federal agencies, private companies, and other interested scholars and students.


Encompasses the myriad kinds of homes displaced and disappeared by reservoirs, from incorporated towns to unincorporated villages to Tribal homelands and isolated farms and villages.


Provides ways to compare, contrast, and learn from the diverse processes and experiences of displacement.

The Atlas of Drowned Towns Quarterly Newsletter

To discover more and stay up to date on everything that’s happening with the project, subscribe below to our quarterly newsletter!

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