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In a photo from the Memorial Day flood of 1935, the remains of the Midland railroad bridge - just the track holding the deck together - stick up from a massively swollen Monument Creek. The location is just north of its confluence with Fountain Creek (about where the Cimarron/I-25 interchange is today). "Amazingly," according to Mel McFarland, "the railroad had trains running over this spot on a temporary bridge a little more than a week later." All but one of the Colorado Springs bridges over Monument Creek were destroyed in the flood.
Courtesy of Mel McFarland

COBWEB CORNERS: The end to the 1934-35 drought (Part 2)

By Mel McFarland

        Editor's note: This column follows a previous one at this link: Cobweb Corners: The end to the 1934-35 drought (Part 1) .

       We left off In Part 1 with a series of Pikes Peak region snowstorms in the spring of 1935.
       Part 2 picks up in early May, when a cloudburst battered the area. It caused mudslides in Manitou and Colorado Springs and dropped 12 inches of snow between Cripple Creek and Cascade, halting train service, cutting telephone lines, impeding automobile traffic and closing most of the activity in the Cripple Creek District.
       In Ute Pass, a short distance above Manitou, Midland Terminal steam shovels worked to clear a mudslide that had covered the tracks. Progress was slow as a soaking rain continued all day, bringing additional dirt from the mountainside down onto the tracks.
       Water was 12 inches deep on the streets of Manitou, but little damage was reported.
       In the night, snow 12 to 16 inches deep fell from Cascade to Divide. The snowfall was lighter in the district and was melting rapidly. Traffic was moving on the roads, but motorists were cautioned about the potential of rock slides in Ute Pass. Small mudslides were reported, but none of them large enough to block traffic.
       After a 48-hour blockade, due to the mudslide near Manitou, the Midland Terminal was able to resume service. A five-locomotive train of empty ore cars was hauled to the Cripple Creek District during the night, returning with as many loads on Monday morning. Another full train of empties was ready for the regular freight train, in order to fill the demand for cars in the district.
       The wet weather also loosened rocks above the new concrete highway bridge, blocking the pass west of Manitou. Similar problems were expected as long as the rainy weather continued.
       This was not the end.
       On Memorial Day, a thunderstorm between Woodland Park and Palmer Lake dumped several inches of rain. The water in Monument and Fountain Creeks rose immediately. The ground was already saturated from nearly six weeks of rain. The people in Monument reported that Monument Lake, still used for making ice in the winter, was full before the storm started. Streams could be seen where there normally were none.
       Rising water hit Colorado Springs from the north and west. All its Monument Creek bridges except the one over Bijou Street were swept away. Colorado City's bridges over Fountain Creek held at 21st and 25th streets, but a few houses were damaged.
       The 1935 flood was the worst that the Pikes Peak region would see for 30 years. It must have been hard for people to remember how serious the drought had been just a few months before.

(Posted 3/7/16; Opinion: Cobweb Corners)

       Local historian Mel McFarland has been writing his Cobweb Corners column in the Westside Pioneer since 2004. To see past columns, go to the Pioneer's Archives. Either look for desired articles under the Cobweb Corners category for any year, or search by keywords in the Find box.

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