Glacier House

A look back at watery times in the history of Golden

Colleen Palumbo looks backs at the damage found in the watery past of Golden.

The recent rain storms have people asking questions about heavy rains in the past that have caused considerable damage. One of the most costly rain incidents is recorded in 2000 Golden Memories.

Early in the morning of Friday, September 4, 1931, the clouds opened up at Glacier and caused the creek, which normally ran past the station, to burst out of its banks at some point above the tunnel and flood the ventilating power house and then block the tunnel.

At 7:30 a.m. the engineer on duty in the power house could hear the raging flood and notified the chief engineer who came to the scene immediately.

Between them they were able to make everything secure and get to safety. They had just reached safety when they looked back to see the lower windows in the power house smashed by a huge volume of water, which carried with it boulders of unbelievable size and immense logs which had, not many minutes before, stood on the banks of the normally quiet creek.

Within half an hour, all the local bridges had been washed away, as had the tennis club house and half the tennis court. By now the power house was half full of the soft grey silt that the raging creek had brought with it. The concrete slab at the power house was washed away and slid in to the Connaught Tunnel.

The track was no longer straight lines of steel and signals, but rather acted like a canal, directing all the water into the tunnel, effectively blocking it off.

By noon the water had reached the eastern portal of the tunnel and had carried away with it 22,000 ties and completely washed out 20 feet of track at Connaught. The station was now in a position of being carried away as well, all the soil that had been sitting on it had been washed away.

About this time, with six feet of raging water covering everything in sight, it was decided that something must be done to get the water back in its proper channel or at least direct it elsewhere. The rain was still pouring down as men began to come from all directions, most unprepared for the battle they were about to face.

Action was what was needed, and soon the engineer and others in charge put together a plan to tame the unruly monster. Gangs of men were sent up the creek to where the water had jumped out of the confines of its banks. They used dynamite to blast log jams and huge boulders out of the creek bed and to deepen the channel so that it would cope with the volume of water.

The blasting operations went on through the rest of the day and into the night. Come morning it was apparent that they were winning the battle. Many precautionary measures were taken to ensure the safety of the men working on the project. Heavy sandbagging was carried out along the banks as well as several other ingenious devices.

The entire system of the C.P.R. was affected and heads of every department turned out to handle their own particular branch. Officials made the trip to the site from Vancouver in just 11 hours.

Eighty hours after the original onslaught of water, the rails were cleared, ready to run on, the telegraph wires and poles were being reattached and secured.

The Connaught Tunnel certainly made the men of the day think. With its one and a half percent grade, how the water made its way through the five miles so quickly was definitely something to think about in the future. A baby caterpillar was used inside the tunnel to clear away the rocks, silt and trees and with an incredible effort on the part of the men involved, regular service was resumed on the main line on Friday morning, September 11.

It would be some time however, before the residents of Glacier were able to recover, each thankful that there was no loss of human life during those first dark days.

 

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