Museum Blog

1896 Royal Gorge Flood

A Terrific Cloudburst Damages the Rio Grande Track in the Grand Canon

PUEBLO, Colo., Aug. 30 – Cloudbursts in the vicinity of Parkdale and four miles west of there on the Rio Grande, this evening, tied up the railroad so that trains will not be running regularly over the line’s own track until to-morrow noon. Current creek bridge, a tile affair, was washed out. A cut west of Parkdale is reported dug out to a depth of ten or fifteen feet, and the water ran around Parkdale station and the switches were washed out. At Echo station the tracks were covered several feet deep with mud and other debris. At Canon City, twelve miles east of Parkdale, where the heaviest downpour fell, the water in the river attained a height of fourteen feet, within a few inches of the stringers of the bridges. The stream kept within its banks, however, and no damage was done locally. By the time the stream reached Florence it had so widened out that no damage was done. The Santa Fe as a matter of precaution, did not send out the night train from Canon City to Pueblo, and trackmen are going over the track to-night to report on the condition. The Denver and Rio Grande sent out their California passenger over the Colorado Midland to Leadville, via Colorado Springs, and the train from the West in the morning will come over the same route.

Later reports indicate that from a point three or four miles west of Canon City to Parkdale, the Rio Grande tracks are covered with mud, rocks and debris. Not more than half a mile is washed out. The hanging bridge in the Grand canon is moved two feet out of line, and is covered with trees and rocks. Between Parkdale and Echo no definite reports have been received as to the extent of the damage. The section foreman reports his night track walker missing, but no apprehensions are felt for him. It will be three or four days before the track will be open for traffic.

August 31, 1896
Rocky Mountain News
“Hanging Bridge Flood ’96”, taken by Royal Hubbell, Object ID: 2020.051.001; Courtesy Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center
“Flood in Royal Gorge Aug. 31, 96”, Object ID: 2015.009.260; Courtesy Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center

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