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1947 flood remembered in the Waldo Canyon area

Published On: May 15 2013 07:02:16 AM CDT

A former Cascade Fire Chief remembers the 1947 flood that could be disastrous now with the Waldo Canyon burn area.


Frank Sanborn was about 13 years old when a flood came roaring down the Waldo Canyon area, May 10th 1947, "It was terribly hot and we got a huge hail storm.  The hail started melting and you could see it come down the hill."  Frank showed me the pictures that his sister took of the roads washed out or cracked and the river of mud and water.   Frank will never forget what he and his family had to go through, "It totally closed down the highway for about four to five days.  The only way you could get up and down from Cascade was the train.  It was still operating then."

Pioneers Museum historian Matt Mayberry opened up the files to show me the newspaper articles about this deadly flood.  Matt says, "This one caused a lot of damage in Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City. resulting in the death of this woman, Yvonne Bjorkland.  Water overpowed the storm drains and swept her into the creek."  Matt told me that there isn't much known about the 1947 flood other than the newspaper articles.  Frank Sanborn's pictures recollections are a key reminder about this chapter in Southern Colorado history, especially now with flood fears reinforced with the Waldo Canyon burn area.  Matt knows full well the impact of a raging flood if it happened now, "It just reminds us the power of nature.  It's strange to see the reference in the 1947 flood to the Waldo Canyon area first of all.  It's exactly the same area that we are concerned about, right now."

Frank Sanborn is not only a witness to this flood in 1947 as a teen, he's also a former Cascade Fire Chief.  He reinforced to me the great work being done for fire and flood mitigation in the same area as the 1947 flood, however "It'd be worse now with a flood like the one I saw as a youngster.  It would be bring down more debris and a lot of black ash from the Waldo Canyon burn area."


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