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The 1913 Flood

The Weekly Press Times

Wallace, Idaho

Friday, May 30, 1913


Floods Threaten Life, Property in Nearby Towns, Tracks washed out in many places -- several bridges gone and others shaky -- many buildings collapsed, more flooded! (from Thursday’s Daily)

the Burke flood, May 28-29, 1913 Flood conditions have grown so bad all over the Coeur d’Alenes following the heavy rains of the past few days that everywhere men are working not only to save their property, but to preserve their lives as well. All yesterday the floods showed no sign of abating, and not until late last night, when it grew cold was there any appreciable let up in the size of the overflow. With a continuation of the colder weather through today, it is hoped that any further trouble can be anticipated and prepared for so that there will be little danger to either life or property as has been the case in the last few days.

The high water came without any warning whatever, and in nearly every case, no preparations for it had been made. In all parts of the district, old timers say the water is the highest they have ever seen or heard of for this country.

The greatest damage locally has been in the neighborhood of the Green Hill-Cleveland and Stewart Mills above the city. Here there are two bridges that section crews are trying hard to keep in place, but the success of their efforts is very uncertain. Northern Pacific engine 79 is marooned in the car yards near the Mill, and will stay there until the flood has subsided, as it is not safe to run it over either of the bridges. Work was resumed yesterday at the Green Hill-Cleveland and the Stewart Mills, both which had been shut down for one day because of the inability of the railroad to ship ore to them. They are now getting ore in limited quantities and are not yet able to run at full capacity. The Hercules Mill is shut down until the shipment can be received. The bridge across the river near the sampler below town was in dangerous condition last evening and could not be used for traffic.

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Burke Threatened
BURKE, May 28 -- Terror, and opposed to this, the persevering labors of miners who worked incessantly all through last night and today to clear away the wreckage which had diverted the course of Lead Creek, were the two most prominent features of a day that will go down in the history of the town.

With her one street washed down to the bedrock, the railroad tracks torn away and the ground sinking from beneath buildings all over the little town, Burke tonight is in the saddest plight she has ever been placed in since the time the big dam broke above the town about 14 years ago.

Burke during the Flood, May 28, 1913 The torrent which rushed down Gorge Gulch carried away the ore dumps of the Moonlight and other mines in the gulch. All this muck was deposited near the Tiger Hotel which is built across the river. As a result, the water was backed up for a few minutes when it flooded the hotel and began flowing down the main street of Burke. Before long, the whole of the current had made a bed of the street and a stream of water three feet deep and running at the rate of 25 miles per hour rushed through the town. Every house and building on the canyon bottom was flooded and the occupants were forced to take to the hills for protection.

A crew of men sent out by the Hercules Company worked all the night to clear away the debris and return the river to its natural course. Up to last night they had only been partially successful in this and there was still a small current running through the street. With the slight let up observed last night, it is believed the gradual fall of the water is heralded and no more serious trouble will be encountered.

Although no fatalities resulted from the flood in Burke, there were several serious accidents and only prompt work prevented catastrophe. While working in the street to keep it clear as much as possible, George Harris lost his balance and was carried about 150 yards downstream in the choking cold water before aid reached him. He was badly bruised and battered and Doctor Dettman was called to attend him. While trying to get across the street, the doctor also fell into the water, but was fished out immediately.

Gorge Gulch before the Flood, May 24, 1913 Gorge Gulch after the Flood, May 30, 1913 Harry Walker also fell into the torrent later in the day, but was thrown a rope and pulled to the shore. John Murphy, while trying to cross the street on a plank bridge, was washed off by waves and carried for a distance of about 200 yards downstream. When pulled out, he had swallowed much water and was nearly choked, but was nearly recovered last night.

At the Hercules barn above town, the water ran through the buildings to a depth of two feet, and hostlers were compelled to move the entire quota of stock, nearly 75 head of horses, up the mountain. Much of the forage on hand was saved, although some of this was reported lost.

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Tracks Washed Out
MACE, May 28 -- There are washouts here on both railroads. The Northern Pacific tracks have been washed out for a distance of 40 feet and the O.-W. R. & N. for about 60 feet. In both places, the ties were carried into the creek and the rails were left hanging by their fish plates.

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Murray Isolated
MURRAY, May 28 -- The road bed of the O.-W. R. & N. railroad has been washed out in several places. At Butte Creek there is a gap of about 50 feet, and at Ragen, four miles above town, there is a great hole 75 feet in length. All railroad communication has been discontinued. At a point about one and a half miles below Murray, the county road has been washed out, but was fixed up yesterday.

There is a big jam of logs and stumps against a railroad bridge in the heart of town, and in spite of strenuous work to clear it up, the water is continually backing up, and yesterday afternoon had almost reached the level of Gold Street, the highest point in the place. No serious damage to the buildings is known of as the backwater is quiet.

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