Xiling Gorge

Yangzi River, China

The 840-mile length of the Yangzi (or, Yangtze) river between Chingqing and Wuhan is punctuated near Yichang by three spectacular gorges (narrow, steep canyons). As of 2006, the new Geshou Dam at Yichang has submerged up to one third in height of the original canyon walls, destroyed countless archaeological sites, displaced millions of inhabitants along the river, and began to wreak its predicted cultural and environmental havoc. At the time these photos were taken, in 1996, the waters had just begun to rise. Xiling is the longest of the three gorges, rising just west of the dam.