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The 1911 Flood

Bridge in flood

Loaded gondola on woooden truss railroad bridge at 15th St. Catalog number: 05.11.32

  • 1911 was a wet year for southwest Colorado with heavy snows in the high country and heavy rains through the summer.
  • On October 4, a gentle rain started. The storm picked up in intensity overnight and dropped two inches of rain on Durango. That was more than the average rainfall for the whole month of October. It was still raining on October 5th.
  • Since the earth was saturated, the water was unstoppable. It was estimated the flow in the Animas River was around 25,000 cubic feet per second (cfs).
  • The railroad moved several gondolas loaded with coal onto the bridge at 15th St. to keep it in place. It didn't help.
  • Miles of the railroad tracks in the Animas Canyon were washed out. The D&RG contracted with Otto Mears in Silverton to rebuild the tracks to the south out of Silverton while D&RG crews worked their way north. The railroad was shut down for nine weeks.
  • The 1911 Flood was certainly the "flood of the century."

Train tracks washed out at Tacoma

View of washed out tracks at the Tacoma Power Plant in 1911. Catalog number: 05.11.17

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