Pictured is the flooding of 1916. It shows just how severe it was with the boardwalks floating and water everywhere.

Turning Back the Pages: The floods of 1916

This week Colleen Palumbo looks back at a time where waters went up in Golden.

As I sit to write this column my heart is sinking for the people here in BC and in neighbouring Alberta who are suffering the ill effects of devastating flooding. Golden experienced the worst flooding in its history in 1916. The Golden Star reported on the event in its June 22, 1916 edition. Space prohibits the full report but it is available at the museum for you to look at if you are interested.

“Predictions were realized on Monday morning when the Kicking Horse threw up its heels and went on a rampage that has demoralized traffic on the C.P.R. for several days, tied up the K.C.R. indefinitely and wrought considerable damage to Golden. The sum total of the damage amounts to flooding many cellar, ruining gardens and in some cases damaging dwelling houses, carrying out the south span of the railroad and traffic bridge, weakening the north approach and pier of the K.C.R. steel bridge.

That the damage to the town and bridges was not greater is due to the herculean efforts of the workmen and individuals who volunteered assistance in keeping the immense mass of drift logs from sweeping the piers from beneath the bridges.

While the blow was sudden it did not catch the railroad entirely unaware and within a few hours after traffic was interrupted crews were on the scene and began the battle with the torrents.

One of the worst problems that confronted the division officials of the C.P.R. is a washout a mile east of Cloister, where a hole some 20 feet long was torn beneath the rails.

Seven train loads of rock were carried to the scene of damage and while much of it went to reinforce weakened fills, a goodly portion was cast into the hungry maw of the river, at the break, to be carried away like pebbles.

Crew laboured on anchored booms, toying with death every second to secure a foundation that would permit rebuilding of the fill in the hope of releasing the two passenger trains held at Glenogle.

This was accomplished Wednesday afternoon and the first train reached Golden at 19:00.

Further east the damage was equal, if not worse. A pier of the long steel bridge east of Palliser was undermined and the bridge tilted to a dangerous angle. The ling fill at Palliser was badly damaged, and many other fills weakened. The creek at what is known as the McKay slide again unloaded debris on the track and played havoc with the railroad.

The first intimation of danger came on Sunday morning when the river slipped over its south bank near the home of Mr. Mackenzie. Not anticipating a further rise, residents of the inundated area made no preparations for moving.

Early risers on Monday found the water stealing into the Golden hospital pasture and gradually wending its way southward and westward. By 8 o’clock it became evident that the crest of high water had not been reached and many of the householders prepared to seek higher ground.

By noon the water had filled back yards, and finding its way to ventilators soon flooded several cellars. Owners of chickens found them cut off in the coops and it was necessary to wade knee deep in the icy water to rescue them.

Would you like to finish reading this story? Drop by the Golden Museum!

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