Pueblo, CO Cloudbursts Cause Terrible Flooding, June 1921

Tracks Washed Out By Flood Flood Debris Downtown Pueblo Aerial view of Flood Damage Flooded Streets in Pueblo


Death and Heavy Destruction Followed in the Path of the Cloudbursts and Consequent Floods which Swept Eastern and Northern Colorado Friday Night.


300 to 500 Dead in Pueblo, Property Loss Will Mount into Millions. City Under Martial Law, Cut Off From Water Supply, Light and Power.

Pueblo, Colo., June 3 -- The loss of life from the great flood which came upon the city of Pueblo from the flood waters swept from the Arkansas and Fountain rivers at 7 o'clock Friday evening is estimated at between 300 and 500 persons. The property loss will exceed $10,000,000.
Crowds were driven from the main bridges by police and guards. In half an hour, so rapidly did the torrents descent, water poured over the top railings of bridges.
Scores of people were caught as the flood entered Main street flowing south into Union avenue. Within two hours the entire wholesale district and a greater part of the business district were flooded with water ten feet deep. Many business houses and dwellings were set afire by burning timber floating from a flaming lumber yard.
One hundred persons were on the Fourth street bridge when it collapsed. Almost all of them are believed to have been lost.
Boats and improvised rafts were used for rescue purposes.
Yards of the Santa Fe railroad were wrecked by fifteen feet of water.
Three bodies have been recovered from the wrecks of D. & G. and Missouri Pacific trains which were overturned into the boiling floods of Friday night.
Exploration of the wrecked, mud-filled coaches was begun Sunday afternoon but was halted by the cloudbursts which sent the Arkansas on another rampage.
Five persons are believed to have perished in these wrecks instead of the hundreds originally reported. Still, the number cannot be given with any certainty until time has been allowed for a thoro[sic] search of the ruins.
The universal opinion is that even half the total loss of life never will be known. The current of the flood waters was so swift that bodies of persons drowned undoubtedly were washed down stream and many of them probably were buried in the sand banks along the river.
The counting of the dead in flood is pushed to background by necessity of guarding against disease and every available man is now being used in cleanup work.
At least 1,500 persons were fed by the Red Cross Sunday. For the first time there was a surplus of provisions. Cooking was done over big bonfires built in a vacant lot acoss[sic] from the court house.
For several days no wire communications could be had with the stricken city.
Officials of the Denver and Rio Grande refused to even estimate the time required to put the roadbeds in condition for traffic in the flooded areas. Numbers 3 and 4 are being operated between Salida and Ogden. Through traffic east from Grand Junction is being routed over the Union Pacific by the way of Salt Lake.

The Plateau Voice Collbran Colorado 1921-06-10