We must have floods on the brain here at DPL's Western History/Genealogy department.
Last week, we brought you a glimpse of the 1914 Cornet Creek flood in Telluride. This week, we're focusing on the floodwaters that deluged the Denver area 82 years ago this August.
[CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTOS OF THE 1933 DENVER FLOOD]
Around 1 a.m. on August 3, 1933, the Denver metropolitan area received a, "terrific battering of cloudbursts." The rains caused Castlewood Dam, an irrigation reservoir located 32 miles southeast of Denver, to collapse.
The Denver Post reported:
It was exactly 2:38 a.m. when Denver first learned that flood waters had broken the Castlewood dam, and that a wall of water would rush into the city...Timely warnings that a fifteen-foot wall of water was rampaging down the creek...saved the lives of many persons.
Every police car and fire truck in the city was called out shortly before 4 a.m. to warn residents of the "bottom" lands to evacuate and to rescue families which might be marooned.
The water that rushed towards Denver was significant, as Castlewood Dam was roughly three times the size of Sloan's Lake. Dwight D. Gross, chief engineer for the Denver Board of Water Commissioners was quoted by the ;Denver Post on August 4, 1933:
Approximately one and one-half billion gallons of water passed through Denver in six hours during and immediately after the flood. This water, heavily laden with dirt, deposited a residue of silt within Denver’s city limits which would weigh, at the very least, 20,000 tons.”
A team of approximately 2,500 men worked to clean up the flood's grimy aftermath. Construction projects soon got under way to rebuild the destroyed bridges in the area.
Besides mud and washed out bridges, Denver residents endured flooded basements and downed phone and power lines. Displaced residents found shelter in Denver's downtown hotels. Two people perished in the flood: 83-year-old Tom Casey, who drowned while attempting to save belongings in his home, and Bertha Catlin, a 24 year-old woman from Page City, Kansas whose horse "threw her into the swirling waters" while she rode to view the flood damage.