North Canyon Cloudburst

By Harold Fuller

This area has always been at the mercy of rapidly developing summer thunderstorms. Flood waters can come fast and furious and on the major concerns for the people of Hawthorne should the large drain ditch just immediately south of town. This ditch is on government property and diverts water around town and must be kept free from debris and eroding banks. As long as the ditch is properly maintained and does its job we should be safe. Perhaps the good folks of 1891 should have had such a ditch because during July of that year a heavy rainstorm hit this area and it came down in torrents for several hours. Hit especially hard was the North Canyon sector just south of town which suffered much damage. The men working in the canyon were lucky to escape with their lives.

J.E. Hart lost about 130 cords of wood which he had piled in the canyon. He barely had time to save his horses. He said that the water came down the canyon with a terrible roar, sweeping huge boulders and trees down the canyon like a chaff. When he first saw the approaching waters he was about a quarter of a mile below it, and it seemed like a great bank of water ten feet high and the width of the canyon floor. The noise was deafening.

The cabins of Finney Coan and Charles Lawrence were swept away with a total loss of everything.

George Box lost a new wagon after his horse became frightened at the awful noise and broke loose leaving the wagon in the canyon. The wagon was broken in several pieces and scattered for miles.

In town the streets were flooded and the cellar of the Knapp and Laws store was flooded but they were fortunate to be able to save most of the goods. Several homes were flooded and filled with mud and debris. About 90 feet of railroad track was left hanging in the air about two miles east of town. It was in the direct line of the cloud burst and some idea of the great volume of water can be formed when it is known that the water had traveled for several miles over comparatively flat country after leaving North Canyon and still the torrent was sufficient to undermine the railroad track for a distance of 90 feet. Railroad men worked side by side with local townspeople to open the line as fast as possible.

There was another washout between the town and the lake, but it was repaired in a few hours, permitting trains to pass with but small delay. Washouts were reported at Sodaville and other points along the road as well.