| Piute Co. UTGenWeb | Contact Me |
Piute County Local History Resources
Piute County Reading Room
Hatchtown Dam Collapses
Click here to see a list of damages paid to Garfield and Piute County residents
for losses due to the flood
(Salt Lake Tribune, 26 May 1914)
HATCHTOWN DAM DESTROYED
Reservoir Gone; Couriers Save Settlers; Many Homeless
Circleville is in Path of Flood; Piute Project Said to Be Endangered
Farmers Living Near Reservoir Ride Along Banks of Sevier River Warning Settlers of Approaching Floods;
Telephone Lines Used Also, but Communication Is Soon Cut Off by Washing Down of Poles and Wires.
Early this morning communication was established between Richfield and Circleville. The operator at Circleville reported last night that the residents had moved from their homes. Circleville is forty miles from the Hatchtown reservoir. The first warning Circleville residents had was when water began to surround a dance hall where most of the residents were celebrating a wedding. Within a few moments the first word of the breaking of the Hatchtown reservoir reached the dance hall. The people rushed to their homes and began to move their belongings to the hillsides. At 3 o'clock this morning the water was two feet deep in the hall and it was expected that the main wave would reach that city about 5 o'clock.
While it is believed that the Piute reservoir, north of Circleville, will care for the water, there are fears entertained at Richfield that this reservoir dam may not withstand the added strain. Those who are familiar with the situation hesitate to estimate what might happen should the Piute dam go out. That the entire section of the country would be inundated with a possible damage of millions, is not believed impossible in the latter event.
No loss of life has been reported, although many horses and cattle have been drowned.
The biggest dam break by far in the history of Utah occurred at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, when the great Hatchtown dam, in Garfield county, went out. The break occurred on the north side of the dam and is understood to have been caused by a landslide, although definite information had not been received at a late hour last night.
The breaking of the dam let loose a small ocean, as the reservoir, which was protected by the dam, containing approximately 14,000 acre feet of water. In area the reservoir, which is situated on the Sevier river in Sevier canyon, is one and one-half miles in length. The water at some places reaches a depth of forty to fifty feet. The reservoir was fed from Mammoth and Asay creeks, tributaries to the Sevier river.
At a late hour last night the water was running thirty feet deep between the reservoir and Panguitch, eighteen miles distant. It was reported at midnight that the water had reached the vicinity of Panguitch, but as the town is forty feet higher than the crest of the flood, no damage is expected in that city.
Damage Will Be Heavy.
Owing to the fact that the break was quickly discovered and that the dam went out gradually no lives are believed to have been lost, but the property damage will be heavy. As soon as the break was discovered couriers were sent out and telephones brought into requisition, with the result that all persons in the pathway of the flood were notified in time to make their escape to high ground and save their lives, although it is believed that many will be homeless as a result of the break.
As soon as the dam went out and the great flood of imprisoned water was set free the Sevier overflowed its banks and for a considerable distance on each side the water averaged a depth of thirty feet.
Between Panguitch and the dam, there are between fifteen and twenty homes, which are presumed to have been washed away. The total of the inhabitants is estimated at between seventy-five and one hundred.
It is also understood that the damage will be heavy from Panguitch down to the Piute reservoir, but it was said last night that the danger would doubtless cease when the Piute reservoir is reached, as that reservoir can take care of a large amount of the water.
Phone Line Is Down.
The poles of the United States Telephone & Telegraph company were washed out by early evening, but messages were gotten through from Panguitch by private wires.
The opinion was expressed last night that the breaking of the dam will result in damages that will mount into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, as, in addition to the loss of homes and other buildings, big areas of farm lands will be flooded to such an extent that it will be impossible to raise crops upon them this year.
The Hatchtown project is a state institution and work upon the system was begun early in 1907. The work on the system, which includes the big dam which went out yesterday, the diversion dam, two miles south of Panguitch, and the canal constructed by the state, cost approximately $175,000. The system was practically finished about a year ago, although it is understood that some work was still to be done.
The water stored in the reservoir, which was protected until yesterday by the big dam, was sufficient for the irrigation of 7000 acres of land, about 5000 of which has been contracted for.
The dam that went out yesterday is approximately sixty to sixty-five feet high and 300 feet long, and is of earthwork with a riprap face. It was estimated last night that the water in the reservoir would cover about seventy-five city blocks of Salt Lake to a depth of twenty to twenty-five feet.
Hatchtown Dam Is Washed Away
The dam was completed in 1908 by D.H. Brinton, of Holladay, who had the contract or the work. Mr. Brinton said last night that the contract called for $65,000, but that the work cost about $100,000 before it was finally accepted by Caleb Tanner, who was the state engineer at that time. Mr. Brinton added that the dam was constructed under the general supervision of David Jensen, who formerly lived in Logan, but who is now supposed to be living in Springville.
The break in the dam, coming at this season of the year, will probably do an irreparable damage, so far as the crops of this year are concerned. It was estimated last night that the break in the dam is such that it would be practically impossible to repair it this year in time to furnish water for the farms.
The Agricultural college has an experiment station, or farm, comprising 160 acres of land, three miles from Panguitch and across the Sevier river, but persons acquainted with the location of the station said last night that they did not believe it would be affected by the flood.
(Salt Lake Tribune, May 27, 1914)
Flood's Crest Imperils Otter Creek Dam
To Investigate Cause of Break, Says Governor
Executive Adds That the State Has a Moral Obligation at Stake in the Matter.
Attorney General Of Same Opinion
Records of Former State Engineer Tanner of Little Value as to Work on Project.
That a most rigid investigation of the causes for the breaking of the Hatchtown dam will be made by the state was the statement made by Governor William Spry last night. He said:
The state engineer, W.D. Beers, is now on the ground and has been ordered by telegraph to ascertain as nearly as possible the causes which led up to the break. I have had a conference with the attorney general and the secretary of state in regard to the matter, and we are of a mind that the whole matter should be sifted to the bottom.
Governor Spry also said that the dam would be immediately reconstructed and that every effort would be made to care for the losses by the farmers. He added:
The state has a moral obligation at stake. It is necessary that we supply water to those people in accordance with the contracts they have for purchase from the state. In addition, there is a moral obligation to care for the losses that have been sustained. It is probable that there will be an appropriation by the next legislature to take care of the matter.
I am not informed whether the state is liable for damages that may have accrued to people not owning lands in the project or whether the state could be held for damages to the town of Circleville. That is a matter that must be later determined. At the present time I am of the opinion that I shall await a complete report from Mr. Beers. However, if the situation seems to get more serious, it is possible that I will go to the ground myself.
The opinion of Governor Spry coincided with that of Attorney General A.R. Barnes, as expressed last night.
The Hatchtown project was begun and completed under the regime of Caleb Tanner, as state engineer. The plans and specifications for the work were drawn under his supervision and the contract for the construction of the dam was entered into by the state with D.B. Brinton of Holladay, on the approval of the former state engineer. The contract with Briton was signed on July 18, 1907.
A copy of the specifications for the work and of the contract is entered in the letter book of Tanner. The records of the office do not officially show that the work was ever completed or accepted by Tanner, but the record in the office of the state land board shows that the project was completed early in 1909 and was accepted and lands under it offered for sale on October 1, 1909.
Covers 7000 Acres.
While the project covered approximately 7000 acres, only about 5800 acres have actually been sold so far, at a price ranging in the neighborhood of $35 an acre. The investment of the state in the reservoir site, dam and other properties, is estimated to be approximately $170,000, but the loss to the state at the reservoir alone, will aggregate $100,000, the amount which it is believed will be necessary to reconstruct the dam.
The contract for the reconstruction of the dam, as shown by Tanner's books, provided that Brinton should construct the work in accordance with Tanner's specifications. It was obligatory on the state engineer to place on the work an engineer to see that the provisions of the contract and the specifications were carried out. Joseph Jensen, formerly of Logan, now a resident of Springville, was the man sent to the work by Tanner. Mr. Jensen is still in the employ of the state engineer's office, being in charge of the work on the Piute project. Tanner resigned his place after the re-election of Governor Spry, and the governor appointed W.D. Beers to the post.
Working on Records.
Ever since he assumed office Mr. Beers has been endeavoring to get the records of the office straightened out. Impressions of outgoing correspondence were kept in letter-copy books. Incoming correspondence was kept in other files. Estimates on the Hatchtown project were also copied in letter-copy books.
Yesterday, when a search was being made for some record of the formal acceptance of the dam by the state engineer's office, it was discovered that pages had been torn from both the letter-copy books for correspondence and also those containing estimates for the payment of work done on the project. In the file of incoming correspondence, only one letter could be found from Contractor Brinton, that one being dated May 1, 1909, and containing a complaint on alleged statements he had heard concerning his work. Brinton also said in the letter that the engineer's office had been tardy in passing on his estimates of work. He sought to get money which he said was due him and added that if it was not paid he intended bringing suit. The suit, he said in the letter, would be for $20,000.
Answer Not Found.
Whether the letter was ever acknowledged by the engineer or transmitted to the state land board was not shown by the letter books in the search made yesterday afternoon.
Owing to a controversy between the land board and Brinton, the contractor, the affairs incident to the construction of the dam were not settled until about a year ago, after Brinton had begun suit against the state to recover money alleged to be due him on the contract.
Attorney General Barnes said last night that he had not yet had an opportunity of examining the contract between the state and Brinton, but that he had the impression that the entire loss on the dam would have to be borne by the state. Farmers who own land in the project cannot file suit for damages against the state, unless they have the consent of the state to file such suit. However, it is expected that an appropriation will be made by the next legislature to reimburse the settlers for their losses.
On March 11, 1909, Engineer Jensen made a report to Tanner on a complaint that had been previously filed by M.M. Steel of Panguitch. The exact nature of Mr. Steel's complaint could not be learned because the letter did not seem to be in the state engineer's files. Mr. Tanner transmitted Engineer Jensen's report to the state land board on March 12, 1909.
Mr. Jensen in his letter said that a thaw had caused a landslide and then continued:
It appears necessary that a reef of heavy rocks should be placed at the rear of the dam and a layer of select dirt laid up the slope of the crest. This will give the necessary additional width required to raise the crest of the dam to its original level. I strongly recommend that the crest be raised two feet higher than the original design to insure against the waves topping the dam. The local conditions certainly warrant extra precautions against wave action.
Mr. Jensen in his letter had underscored the word "extra" in the last sentence quoted in the foregoing.
Mr. Tanner was in Provo last night and said that he had no direct knowledge of conditions at the Hatchtown reservoir. He said that his information was only that contained in the news reports from the affected section.
Mr. Tanner added, however, that in his opinion the Hatchtown dam had never had a very satisfactory foundation. He said that the dam had leaked after it was first constructed, but for the last year or two the leaks had stopped and that those connected with the project had come to the conclusion that the dam was satisfactory. Mr. Tanner refused to give an opinion as to the cause of the break.
State engineer investigates cause of disaster for Governor Spry.
Spry may investigate personally later.
Legislative appropriation to reimburse settlers is probable.
Hatchtown dam will be rebuilt immediately.
Project built under former State Engineer Caleb Tanner's specifications and supervision.
Only 5800 acres out of 7000 in Hatchtown project already sold.
State loss at Hatchtown dam estimated at $100,000.
No official record of acceptance by state. Records mutilated.
Contractor Brinton once threatened $20,000 suit for unpaid balance.
J.H. Quinton feared break in Hatchtown dam and advised preparation of Piute project to withstand possible flood.
Roads, bridges and telephone lines washed out.
The Redmond bridge, near Gunnison, is in danger.
Piute dam still holding at 3 a.m.
President Candland, of land board, personally inspecting damage.
Water in Piute reservoir rising at rate of .11 of a foot per hour.
Flood subsides at Circleville and people return to badly-damaged homes.
Otter creek dam believed to be in danger of breaking.
Judge John F. Chidester tells of discovery of landslides that caused break.
Sister-in-law of Salt Laker saved when horse swims out of flood.
Engineer W.D. Beers Notifies Governor Piute Dam Is Safe
Telegraphing to the governor and to the state land office from Richfield at 2:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon, W.D. Beers, state engineer, said: "All flood can be held in the Piute reservoir." He said that in the previous eight hours, from 6 a.m., the water in the reservoir had risen six-tenths of a foot.
W.J. Lynch, secretary of the state land board, was confident yesterday that the Piute reservoir would hold the flood. Reports from the reservoir received at the state engineer's office last Saturday were that the water was about sixty-two feet deep at the dam and was rising about one-tenth of a foot each day, Secretary Lynch said before the seventy-five-foot level of the reservoir was reached it would hold 30,000 more acre-feet of water, which is considerably more than the amount of water which was impounded in the Hatchtown reservoir at the time the dam went out. This fact, with the knowledge that the Piute dam is of far stronger construction than the Hatchtown dam, convinces the local officials that the danger of further damage is slight.
Professor Richard R. Lyman of the University of Utah engineering school, who is familiar with the projects affected, said yesterday that the situation would be terribly grave if the Piute dam failed to hold. He said:
The bursting of the dam at the Hatchtown reservoir on the head waters of the Sevier river is fraught with grave features. If the Piute reservoir fails to hold the flood waters the flood will sweep all before it down the valley to the Sevier bridge reservoir, and in case this should give way it would be a terrible calamity. The Hatchtown reservoir is a baby compared with the Sevier bridge project. This latter impounds more water than the Hatchtown and the Piute reservoirs combined. There are under it not less than 60,000 acres of crops, all depending for irrigation water on the canals and laterals that have their sources at the big dam.
Salt Lakers Interested.
Salt Lake capital is interested heavily in projects there and there are men in this town today who are sweating drops of blood, awaiting anxiously every word of news that comes from the flood district. The Sevier River Land & Irrigation company has many thousands of dollars invested under the big irrigation project. L. Holbrook is manager, and Holbrook, Kimball and McCornick are heavy holders in the company; the Delta Land & Water company, with George A. Snow vice president and general manager; the Deseret Irrigation company, with Milton Moody president, and the Mellville Irrigation company, with H.E. Maxfield president, are among others who are heavily interested in projects along the Sevier river. Salt Lake banks, among others being the Deseret National and the Utah State national, have financed these projects and there is considerable apprehension among banking circles.
Worth More Than Million.
The Sevier bridge reservoir is worth more than a million dollars, and impound more water than the Arrow Rock dam in Idaho. There is a $30,000 power plant near the dam, owned jointly by the various irrigation companies. More than 10,000 cubic yards of dirt a day is being moved to keep the dam in repair and to meet flood emergencies. It is not the capacity of the Piute reservoir to hold the flood waters from Hatchtown so much as the strength of the dam. The assistant state engineer says the Piute reservoir will hold 30,000 acre-feet more water before it reaches the crest of the dam and if the construction holds solid the flood will be stopped without continuing to the big reservoir at Sevier bridge.
There are at least seventeen bridges on the Denver & Rio Grande railroad in the line of the flood if the big dam goes out which would be swept away, and the loss could hardly be estimated.
Cause Is Unknown.
Just how a leak could spring in the Hatchtown dam where it did is a puzzle to Assistant State Engineer C.J. Ullrich: He said that the dam along the outlet tunnel, where the disastrous leak occurred, was considered one of the strongest parts of the structure. Mr. Ullrich was absolutely confident that the Piute dam would easily take care of the flood waters. He said:
There is no possibility of any damage being done beyond the Piute reservoir. This reservoir has a capacity of 78,000 acre-feet, whereas there is now only 48,000 acre-feet there, so it can easily take care of 30,000 more, as there was only 17,000 acre-feet behind the Hatchtown dam, and the flood waters will be easily absorbed. The capacity of the Hatchtown reservoir was 5,183,640,000 gallons. The Piute dam is hydraulic filled, which means the hardest kind of packing, so no apprehension whatever is felt for this reservoir.
The break in the Hatchtown dam was considered possible by J.H. Quinton, a consulting engineer, who made a report to Caleb Tanner, former state engineer, when he examined the site of the Piute dam. Mr. Quinton was employed to make a survey and report of the Piute reservoir project. In Tanner's report to the governor in 1908, the report of Mr. Quinton is given. He speculated on the possibility of the breaking of the upper dam and urged that the Piute dam be constructed to care for just such an emergency. His valuable advice was followed in the construction of the dam and may be the means of preventing a terrible catastrophe.
Mr. Quinton's report read, in part:
Suppose the upper dam should fail, what effect might it have on the Piute dam? To guard against this contingency the state engineer has taken a very wise and sensible precaution -- making the top of the Piute dam, when finished, fifteen feet higher than the high water level of the reservoir. This not only gives a regulating capacity of about 30,000 acre-feet, but a depth of fifteen feet of water in the spillway, which would permit of an outflow of about 10,000 cubic feet per second, acting in conjunction with the regulating power of the reservoir. This would, in all probability, take care of the flood waters from a failure of the upper dam, but it might be possible to make the Piute dam still safer by making the lower part of it of loose rock, which, in case of water rising over the top of the dam, would not wash away so readily as earth and gravel. In fact, a small amount of water might run over the top of a loose rock dam for a short time without doing serious damage or endangering the stability of the structure. The overtopping of an earthen dam by the water in the reservoir would probably mean instant destruction. Such a catastrophe as might follow should be guarded against by every means in your power.
Another great advantage of a loose rock dam as compared with a purely earthen dam, is that it is not necessary to take so many precautions against leakage underneath it, as any water which might leak through the dam will drain away naturally through the loose rock without carrying with it any portion of the dam; whereas water leaking under an earth dam is liable to carry the material of the dam with it and thus cause a break, which, with a full reservoir, might end in disaster. It is possible that sufficient rock of a suitable nature may be found within reasonable distance of the Piute dam site to construct a dam of this type for a reasonable cost, and I will submit to the state engineer a sketch showing my ideas of such a dam. The foundation for a loose rock dam need not be so expensive as that for the earthen dam designed by the state engineer, and in this connection I would recommend that at least ten holes be sunk as soon as possible on or near the axis of the material to be encountered in the foundation, and also to determine the level and probable amount of underground water.
These holes can be sunk by an ordinary well-driving outfit for a reasonable cost, under the supervision of an engineer, who should keep accurate records of material encountered. At the same time, a thorough examination of the immediate vicinity of the dam site should be made to determine if sufficient rock of a suitable nature for the loose rock part of the dam can be found within reasonable distance for hauling or transporting on cars to the dam site. All of the rock in the dam does not necessarily have to be hard and durable, as the central portion of the loose rock mass might be of softer material than that on the bed of the dam on the outside slopes; but the top, bottom and slopes of the rock mass should, for at least a thickness of five feet, be of hard and durable fragments, which will not crumble or disintegrate under the action of water, or of the weather.
All Communication South of Junction Cut Off; Roads, Bridges and Telephone Lines Washed Out.
Water Still Rising in Piute Reservoir
People of Circleville Return to Their Badly Damaged Homes; Eyewitnesses Describe Disaster
By Staff Correspondent.
PIUTE DAM (via Marysvale), midnight.--At midnight tonight State Engineer W.D. Beers estimated that the crest of the flood had passed into the reservoir. The water is now rising at the rate of .11 of a foot per hour, as against .4 of a foot per hour for three hours during the afternoon.
Fears for the safety of the Otter creek dam are now felt. The Otter creek reservoir is twenty-five miles up from the Piute dam, Otter creek emptying into the Sevier river seven miles above the Piute reservoir and the Otter creek dam being eighteen miles up the creek from the mouth. The Otter creek reservoir has now reached its capacity, according to reports received here last night. It is filled with about 30,000 acre-feet of water. Should it give way this water would rush down on the Piute dam. State Engineer W.D. Beers, W.D. Candland and Judge J.F. Chidester, president and member, respectively, of the state land board, will go from here on horseback to the Otter creek reservoir in the morning.
Communication Cut Off.
There is no communication to be had south of Junction. Roads, bridges and telephone lines are all washed out on both sides of the river. However, it was known last night that the residents along the path of the flood were notified in sufficient time to allow them to flee to the hills with their possessions. Some stock was drowned. Two cowboys reached here with afternoon from the vicinity of the stricken village of Circleville. From their position on the mountains they said they could see that the water had subsided in Circleville and that the people were returning toward their badly damaged homes.
Tonight State Engineer Beers, who left Provo after receiving the news of the disaster and traveled all night and all day in an automobile until he reached here late this afternoon, estimates that a height of 68.5 feet on the Piute dam will take care of all the flood water of the Hatchtown dam. The Piute dam is ninety feet high, but there will be danger if the water goes over seventy or seventy-five feet. If the Otter creek reservoir goes out it will bring the water in the Piute to eighty feet or more. In that case a strong wind, lashing the waters of the reservoir, would cause a washing along the riprap top of the Piute dam, which might prove serious.
Overflow Gates Opened.
At 8 a.m. today there were 50,800 acre-feet of water in the Piute reservoir. At 5:30 o'clock this afternoon there were 56,600 feet, an increase amounting to about one-half of the water liberated by the breaking of the Hatchtown dam.
Two overflow gates have been opened and are letting out about 1440 acre-feet of water each twenty-four hours. This is going down the Sevier river, which is full to the top of the banks. There is a third flood gate which could be opened, but Mr. Beers fears that an increased flow would jeopardize the Sevier bridge dam at Delta, as the river is now almost filled to capacity. The outlet gates on the Delta dam will allow about the same amount of water to pass through safely as is now being let through the Piute dam, thus maintaining the level in that reservoir.
The Redmond bridge, near Gunnison, is in danger of being washed out according to reports received here tonight. Citizens in that vicinity are preparing to tear down the bridge in order to prevent its being washed out.
Water Reaches Piute.
The first of the flood waters reached the Piute reservoir about noon today. At that time the depth at the dam was 62.86 feet. Two flood gates had been opened and were letting out about twenty cubic feet per second, a stream equal to the normal flow of the Sevier river. At 1:30 o'clock this afternoon the depth was 63.76 feet. At 2:30 o'clock it had risen to 64.16 feet and at 3:30 o'clock it was 64.56 feet. At 4:30 o'clock the measure was 64.96 feet, at 5:30 it was 65.26 feet, at 7:30 it was 65.71 feet, at 8:30 it was 65.91 feet and at the last measurement, an hour later, a height of 66.02 feet was reached, with the water then rising at the rate of about .11 of a foot per hour. At this rate it would rise about a foot during the night.
Hatchtown is sixty-seven miles up from Piute dam, and twenty miles above Panguitch on the Sevier river, which flows north through this section. The Hatchtown dam is located at the junction of Asay and Mammoth creeks with the Sevier river and was started in 1908, it being the first big dam to be started in Utah. The reservoir had a capacity of 15,000 acre-feet, there having been about 12,000 feet in it when the dam broke.
Government Engineer Porter was in the vicinity last Saturday and inspected the dam. At that time he pronounced it safe and there was no indiction of a break. No concern was felt in the vicinity.
At 1 o'clock Monday afternoon Dimmick Huntington, foreman of the dam, noticed a slide of earth at the back of the dam. He notified Judge John F. Chidester of Richfield, a member of the state land board. He was ordered to get out all possible teams and work on the slide. Judge Chidester telephoned to Panguitch and ordered more teams out. The flood gates were opened and work rushed to repair the slide. At 3 o'clock there was a second slide, after which water began to seep through on the east side of the reservoir. The teams were kept at work until about 7 p.m., when it was seen that the dam was in grave danger.
Shortly after all workmen and teams had reached a place of safety the big structure burst, a breach of 140 feet being torn away by the tremendous pressure of the water. A solid wall of water plunged wildly down the canyon.
On hearing the first news, Judge Chidester had ordered couriers up the canyon from Panguitch to warn the settlers, all of whom moved their furniture and other property to safety at once. At 11 o'clock Monday night the wall of water reached the first ranch, that of Dan Haymond. Haymond and his family, having been warned, were watching for the flood, and made for safety. At this point the wall of water was thirty-two feet high and 400 feet wide, the point being fourteen miles down the canyon from the dam.
Water Hits House.
When the water reached a point a quarter of a mile from Panguitch it was seen to strike a small house, which had been abandoned. This, with four others near by, were carried down the stream.
At 7 o'clock Monday night George West, a traveling man living in Ogden, took an automobile and started north from Panguitch to notify the residents of the oncoming torrent. All reached high points. Panguitch, being on high ground, was untouched.
Judge Chidester called Circleville and warned the people there. They did not believe there was any danger at first. Finally Mrs. Arthur Whittaker took charge and went to a dance hall where almost the entire population was dancing. She ordered the 300 people there to get their possessions and get to the hills. They worked all night with teams hauling their possessions out and at daybreak the great wall of water hit the town, rushing through the main street at a depth of sixteen feet.
Mrs. Ambrose Thompson, at the Thompson ranch north of Circleville, saw the water coming and started on horseback. The water overtook her, but her horse swam to high ground. Mrs. Thompson is the wife of a brother of former Mayor Ezra Thompson of Salt Lake.
Engineer Beers, President Candland of the land board and The Tribune correspondent came over here to the Piute dam last night with Judge John F. Chidester in his automobile.
(Salt Lake Tribune, May 28, 1914)
Otter Dam Leaking; Situation Is Grave; Probing Disaster Here
Public Satisfaction Expressed Over Governor's Determination to Make Thorough Investigation
Building Record Is Unenlightening
Official Acceptance of Structure Still Undiscovered; Speculation a to Cause.
Expressions of satisfaction reached Governor Spry from all sections of the state yesterday when it became known through the news columns of The Tribune that a complete investigation of the Hatchtown dam disaster was to be made. Congratulations were sent to the governor and to members of the state land board, together with opinions that the probe should be a most thorough one.
Various means of conducting the investigation have been suggested to the executive, but it is expected that the plan that will be followed, after the preliminary report of the state engineer is received, will be to appoint an independent board of three engineers to go over the ground. It is said that numerous citizens living in the vicinity of the Hatchtown dam are anxious to lay before an investigating committee numerous complaints relative to leaks in the dam and a growing fear for the past few years that the structure was unsafe. It is also pointed out that on several occasions engineers have made investigations of the leaks and have given reassuring statements, and that these have acted to allay the fears of the farmers living in the vicinity.
Acceptance Is Missing.
Further investigation in the office of the state engineer yesterday failed to reveal any documentary evidence that Former State Engineer Caleb Tanner, under whose specifications and supervision the dam was constructed, had ever officially accepted the work or had ever transmitted to the state land board any letter or statement that the project had been completed. Engineer Tanner's records have not been found to show that the suggestion made by Engineer Joseph Jensen on March 11, 1909, for strengthening and increasing the height of the dam were ever carried out. On that date Mr. Jensen submitted a report to his superior, in which he recommended that a reef or rock be placed at the rear of the dam. Mr. Jensen also said on that date that "the local conditions certainly warrant extra precautions against wave action." That his recommendation was intended to convey a serious situation was indicated by the fact that Mr. Jensen underscored the word "extra" in his letter. Whether the recommendation was ever carried out is not shown by the records kept by Mr. Tanner.
Just how much the Hatchtown project cost the state is also a matter that is undetermined by the former engineer's record. The voucher book in the office shows a multitude of payments on the Hatchtown work, but there is no recapitulation or summary of the cost figures. At nowhere in the book is shown a final payment to Contractor Brinton, who constructed the dam.
Speculation on Causes.
But little information on conditions as they are being found by State Engineer W.D. Beers, who was sent to the project by Governor Spry to make a report to the chief executive, has as yet reached the state engineer's office. However, the members of the engineering staff have been studying the situation and have been putting together such scraps of hearsay complaint as have reached the office from time to time in regard to the project.
The theory was formed yesterday that the break might have been primarily due to leaks above and about the outlet tunnel constructed through the dam. It is pointed out that water has been seeping though the dam, and that the surfaces along the edges of the tunnel have afforded easy exit for the water. The earth it pierces has been gradually eaten away, so that when the necessary pressure was exerted by the stored water the dam gave way. It was also suggested that the foundation of the dam may have slipped slightly. In support of this theory is cited the statement made Tuesday night by Former Engineer Tanner in Provo, and whose plans for construction of the dam were carried out, that the dam "had never had a very satisfactory foundation." According to members of the staff of the state engineer's office the foundation has always been supposed to be hardpan. However, if Former Engineer Tanner is correct in his statement that the foundation has never been satisfactory, it is said that a slipping or settling of the foundation might have been possible. This, it is argued, would only increase he tendency to leaking about and above the outlet tunnel, causing the final collapse Monday.
Governor William Spry announced yesterday that he had wired the engineer to transmit his report as soon as possible, so that immediate steps can be taken in the investigation.
"The board of examiners and the land board will go into the matter," said the governor. "Mr. Beers has been advised to ascertain the causes of the break as far as possible and report. I believe a thorough investigation is necessary.
"The first concerns of the state will be to aid the stricken settlers. Reconstruction plans will be given early consideration and every effort will be made to fulfill the state's obligations to the persons to whom water rights have been sold. I believe, also, there is a moral obligation on the state to take care of the losses that have been suffered."
When shown the report that Caleb Tanner, former state engineer, had declared that the foundation for the dam was never satisfactory, W.J. Lynch, secretary of the land board, declared this morning that he could not understand such an assertion, in view of the fact that the dam was built under the personal and direct supervision of the former engineer.
"When the contract for the construction of the dam was let," he said, "Mr. Tanner had a clause put in to the effect that he as state engineer should be sole arbiter of all disputes arising between the land board and the contractor. He was insistent upon this point, and in view of the fact that he exercised that right and personally supervised the construction of the dam, I cannot understand what he means by saying that the base of the dam was never satisfactory. However, he is in a position to know, since he built it, practically."
Governor Spry, commenting on the same statement of the former engineer, said he was not sure what Mr. Tanner meant, but that in any event it was his duty as engineer to see that the base was satisfactory before allowing the construction of the dam to proceed.
Man and Woman May Have Been Drowned
Were Riding Down Circleville Canyon at Time of Flood and May Have Been Caught.
By Staff Correspondent.
MARYSVALE, May 27.--The gravest situation in the flood conditions tonight is the Otter creek dam, which is now full to within three feet of the top. Reports here by courier late tonight are that the dam is already leaking slightly and that the structure is under a severe strain.
The Otter creek reservoir is now impounding about 30,000 acre feet of water, its maximum capacity. Should it go out this tremendous load would be added to the burden of the Piute dam, which now stands firm in protecting the lives and property of the people throughout the entire Sevier river valley.
The Piute reservoir water level had risen four and one half feet tonight, the total increase since the Hatchtown waters struck it at noon Tuesday. It is now holding all the flood waters, and at the dam the depth is approximately sixty-seven feet. It is impounding about 60,000 acre feet of water. Its maximum capacity is 90,000 acre feet. Should the 30,000 feet in the Otter creek reservoir, twenty-five miles away, rush down upon it, its utmost capacity would be perilously taxed.
Outlets Are Open
However, there is a general feeling here that the Piute reservoir will save the valley of the Sevier from a catastrophe. The outlet gates are pouring a stream the size of a river through it constantly, letting up on the pressure as rapidly as possible. The Sevier river s full to the top of its banks. The Piute reservoir is pronounced to be in excellent condition, and there is little apprehension felt here.
Today a party went from here into the flooded district as far south as the mouth of the Circleville canyon, where the water rushed out in a wall twenty feet high onto the village. In the party were State Engineer W.D. Beers, President W.D. Candland and J.F. Chidester of the state land board and the staff correspondent of The Tribune. The trip to Junction was made by automobile over badly washed roads.
At Junction the members of the party started on horseback for Circleville, reaching there by a wide detour. From Junction to Circleville and up to the mouth of Circleville canyon there was evidence on all sides of the havoc wrought by the rush of water from the Hatchtown reservoir.
Man and Woman Missing.
It is estimated that the total damage to property in that vicinity will be more than $25,000. Ten houses were destroyed and much livestock, farm implements, barns, outbuildings and the like.
It is possible that a man and woman, driving along Circleville canyon in a buggy, may have been overtaken by the rush of waters and drowned. The dead horse and dilapidated buggy were found by the inspecting party today near the mouth of the canyon. It is thought, however, that the couple might have abandoned the horse and buggy and fled to the hills in time to escape the mighty wall of water. Nothing has been heard from them, though they may have reached some ranch with which communication has not been re-established.
Dishes Not Broken.
The house owned by Wesley Reynolds was found a mile down the stream from where it was located when the torrent struck it. It was tipped up on its side. An examination of the interior showed the remarkable result, however, that in its mad flight down the river not a dish in the cupboard was broken, so lightly did the huge wave carry its big burden.
Late in the afternoon the party returned to Circleville, where the stricken villagers were endeavoring to bring order out of chaos as best they could. The return trip to the Piute dam was made tonight in the automobile, the party arriving here about 9 o'clock.
When informed of the latest news from the Piute reservoir district last night, Assistant State Engineer C.J. Ullrich said he was confident that the Piute dam would hold.
"The dam may be severely strained before it is all over," he said, "but I believe the margins of safety in its construction will stand the test even though the Otter creek dam does go out."
Mr. Ullrich received no direct news from Mr. Beers yesterday on account of the fact that Mr. Beers was out on the trip of inspection into the district covered by the flood. Last night it was with the utmost difficult that The Tribune could get into communication with its staff correspondent who is at the Piute dam. It was necessary to relay the news from Marysvale to the Richfield operator, from the Richfield operator to the Ephraim operator and from the Ephraim operator to The Tribune in Salt Lake. Rains and other troubles in the southern part of the state, along with heavy use of the lines, has crippled the service.
Officials of the telephone company said their lines to that section of the state had been taxed to capacity since the bursting of the Hatchtown dam. Scores of persons in Salt Lake, Provo and other cities have been anxiously endeavoring to get in communication with relatives and friends in the Sevier valley and southward to hear about the situation.
Apostle Joseph F. Smith, Jr., is still marooned in Panguitch, where he was when the flood came. He had been there attending the quarterly conference and intended to go on to Kanab. However, the bridges and roads on both sides of Panguitch, which is on high ground, have been washed out. It will take several days to make them at all passable.
(Salt Lake Tribune, May 29, 1914)
Spry Awaits Report From W.D. Beers
State Official Will Investigate the Causes of the Break in the Hatchtown Dam
Otter Creek Dam Is Still Holding
Damage to Crops in Flooded Districts Will Be Much Less Than First Reported
OTTER CREEK RESERVOIR, via Coyote, May 28.--A council of engineers arrived here tonight to inspect the Otter creek dam and to advise as to the best means to protect the dam against a possible beak.
Those in the party, which reached here late today, are State Engineer W.D. Beers, Assistant State Engineer Joseph Jensen, Engineer Tush of the Sevier bridge dam and Engineers Porter and Sanford of the United States geological survey.
This reservoir now has a depth of thirty-five feet and is holding 30,000 acre feet of water, about its capacity. The flood gates are open and the normal flow of the river is passing through them. The water in the reservoir has not increased today. The dam is sweating at the water front, and the danger is that the seepage may imperil the dam. If thought best by the engineers, the spillway will be opened and a large amount of the water in the dam released. Should this be done, the mill and the houses at Kingston would be endangered on account of the high water in the river, which is already crowding its banks.
The party of engineers will leave tomorrow for Panguitch, and will try to get through to Hatchtown to make the first official examination of the break in the dam.
Pending a report of State Engineer W.D. Beers, who, with a party of experienced irrigation engineers, is on his way to the Hatchtown dam to ascertain the cause of the disastrous break, state officials yesterday refrained from commenting on the break. Mr. Beers is of the opinion that a cross-section of the cut in the dam will probably show the cause of the break.
Mr. Beers spent last night at the Otter creek reservoir, which is reported to be in danger of breaking. He will leave this morning for Panguitch, via Sweetwater and John's valley. Near Panguitch, where the bridge is out, arrangements have been made to ferry the state engineer and his party across the river.
By direction of the governor, Judge John F. Chidester of the state land board will leave Richfield this morning for Hatchtown. He plans to spend two days on the doubtful temporary roads between Junction and Panguitch, while Mr. Beers hopes to get through from Otter creek in a day. In order to make the trip to Hatchtown, Judge Chidester has been excused from next Tuesday's meeting of the state land board.
Governor Awaits Report
The inspection of the break in the dam by Judge Chidester and the state engineer will be informal, but official, and the governor's procedure in the investigation of the causes of the break will probably depend largely on the nature of the reports from these officials.
Communication with Panguitch was reestablished yesterday by a roundabout telephone connection by way of Parowan and Beaver. It is reported at Panguitch that the break in the Hatchtown dam is about 120 feet wide on the east side of the dam. It appears that the principal break was along the concrete tunnel that forms the outlet to the canal. The suggestion has been made that the juncture between the outer rim of the concrete and the puddled earth of the dam was not good, which made it possible for the water to work its way along the concrete and seep through, eventually bringing about the big break.
Through preliminary repots from W.D. Candland, Judge Chidester and State Engineer Beers made by wire to the governor from Marysvale yesterday, it was learned that the damage was not as great as was at first expected.
The principal concern of the state officials yesterday was to provide water for the farmers on the 5000 acres under the Hatchtown project. As soon as communication was opened with Panguitch yesterday the Hatchtown project farmers were authorized to tap the river ad connect up the canals directly with the river instead of with the dam. With the arrival of Engineer Beers tonight, the work of connecting up the canal with the river will be pushed.
In the event that the high waters of the river at present do not provide sufficient water for the farmers, a connection of the system will be made with Sanford creek, which will give an ample water supply during the next two months. In the meantime, it is planned to make a temporary repair at the Hatchtown reservoir, which will permit it to hold 5000 acre-feet of water, enough for the midsummer irrigation of the land under the project.
A preliminary appraisement of the damage, exclusive of that to the dam itself, and the damage in the canyon, which has not been inspected, the loss will be very light. State officials find that the loss to the crops in Circle valley and Junction will be nominal. In this section there is considerable damage to the fences, but the cost of repair will not be great.
Governor Spry yesterday received a telegram from the Panguitch Commercial club calling attention to heavy losses to farmers in that vicinity and asking that the governor make a personal investigation of the situation.
Action Saves Many Lives
Telephone Line Goes Out of Commission as She Concludes Her Warning
(Photograph) Mrs. Rosalia Whittaker of Circleville, who notified settlers of approaching flood.
By Staff Correspondent.
CIRCLEVILLE. May 28 (by courier to Junction).--Mrs. Rosalia Whitaker will long live in the memory of the people of southern Utah as the heroine of the Hatchtown flood. Through her courage, her good judgment and her coolness, the lives and property of hundreds of persons in Circle valley were saved.
When the first news of the break in the Hatchtown dam was received in Circle valley the residents were skeptical. They knew that they were in the path of the flood, if the news were true, but there had been flood scares in the past that proved to be only scares, and the self-satisfied farmers of Circle valley refused to be disturbed by the cry of "Wolf."
Chidester Is Notified
Judge Chidester of Richfield, member of the state board of land commissioners, had been notified early Monday evening by Dimmick Huntington, watchman at the dam, that a break in the dam was imminent. Judge Chidester realized the danger to the farmers in the path of the flood and the necessity of warning them of their peril. He telephoned to several farmers, who laughed at the report that there was likely to be a flood. Finally he telephoned to the Whitaker hotel at Circleville and talked to Mrs. Whitaker. He impressed on the young woman the need of convincing the farmers of their danger, and the urgent necessity of taking immediate steps to save the lives and property in the territory below the reservoir.
Telephoned to Farmers
Mrs. Whitaker concluded that if the flood was coming it would be only a short time before all communication was cut off. She immediately telephoned to the people living in Circleville canyon who would be the first to suffer from the flood. At Robinson's ranch, the stage station in the canyon, were camped several men who were hauling wool from the shearing corrals in the neighborhood. Mrs. Whitaker first telephoned to this station and warned the people of the impending danger. The teamsters quickly hitched up their horses and hauled their wool high up the side of the canyon. The returned and helped "Uncle Ted" Robinson and Mrs. Robinson, keepers of the stage station, to get their livestock and most of their furniture up the canyon walls above the danger line.
Scarcely had the Robinsons and the drivers scrambled up the sides of the canyon with the last load of the things they had hastily collected from the ranch house when they heard a great roar coming from the canyon. Soon they made out through the gathering darkness a wall of water thirty feet high and 400 feet in width sweeping down the canyon. Tumbling and rolling in front of the water was a tangled mass of uprooted trees, brush, lumber, logs and boulders.
Torrent Swept Everything.
The great torrent swept everything before it. From their point of safety on the hill the Robinsons and the wool teamsters saw the great flood wave strike the Robinson ranch. Before the rush of waters the farm buildings were reduced to kindling wood. The house, which was on somewhat higher ground than the other buildings, floated off intact. Just below the Robinson ranch there is a bend in the Sevier river.
Striking this bend the flood waters were momentarily checked and an eddy was formed. Into this whirlpool the ranch house went, spinning round and round. Then when the mad rush of the flood was resumed the house was pushed to one side by the water and deposited gently, right side up with care, high and dry, but across the canyon from where it had stood a few moments before, and with a raging river between it and the little party which had abandoned it.
Wires Washed Out.
Immediately after giving the Robinson ranch its timely warning, Mrs. Whitaker notified James Veater, Charles Dotson, Simeon Kessler and other farmer living near the mouth of Circleville canyon, down which the flood was pouring Just as she was concluding her warning to the last of the farmers in this dangerous location, the telephone line went out.
Had it not been for the good judgment and promptness of Mrs. Whitaker the farmers she warned by telephone would doubtless have been taken unawares in the night and swept down stream with an appalling loss of life, and a much greater loss of property than actually resulted from the flood.
But Mrs. Whitaker did not stop with her telephone warnings. There was a dance in progress at the village dance hall. The village orchestra's more or less delightful music gave no hint of the approaching flood that threatened the destruction of the little town and the choice farms of beautiful Circle valley. To the dance went Mrs. Whitaker and took charge of the situation.
The dancers were loath to believe the grave news which she brought. They were sure that the dam hadn't broken, and anyway there was plenty of time to get scared the next day. They would rather keep on dancing.
But the plucky little woman was not to be thus put off. She commandeered the reluctant young men and sent the pouting young women home to help their parents pack their goods and prepare to flee.
The young men changed their dancing pumps for riding boots and jangling spurs and Sunday trousers were incased in chaps, as each was made a Paul Revere to ride and spread the alarm. Mrs. Whitaker allotted to each rider a score of farm houses, and soon they were scurrying in all directions. Many a Circle valley farmer was aroused that night by the sound of galloping hoofs in his farmyard, and then received the warning and spent all night preparing to get his family, his stock and his household effects out of the danger zone.
Several boys on fleet horses were stationed at the mouth of Circleville canyon to watch for the coming of the flood and to hurry back at its approach to notify the townsfolk.
The first rays of Tuesday morning's sun was peeping over the white-topped rim of the mountains that encompass the green circle of fields and give to the valley its name, must have marveled at the change over night. Well up on the sides of the foothills were large herds of stock -- horses, cattle, sheep, swine and even chickens.
Most of the puzzled animals kept trying to break away and abandon the unappetizing sage and greasewood for the rich grass of the lowland meadows. It required the constant vigilance of the cowboys to keep the droves and flocks from stampeding back to the valley.
With the livestock on the hills were farm implements, loads of household goods, hay, grain and provisions. Before each farm house was standing a team and buggy ready to start for the hills with the master of the farm, who had remained behind as long as possible that he might save as much from the impending flood as he could.
At the cemetery, which is located on a knoll overlooking the valley, were the children and the babies. Circleville has a little more than the average town in baby population per capita, and the pretty, green cemetery was alive with youngsters unconsciously romping over the graves of their ancestors.
It was just before 6 o'clock Tuesday morning when the riders who had spent the night watching at the mouth of the canyon came racing into Circleville on foaming horses into the flanks of which the spurs of the excited riders were deeply sunken.
Flood Is Sighted
Afterward the boys who waited for the flood at the mouth of the canyon said that soon after daybreak they caught their first glimpse of the flood waters. They heard a distant roar and soon saw a small amount of water, not more than two feet, coming down the canyon at a rapid rate. The boys were surprised at the small amount of water and wondered at the great bass roar that seemed to fill the mountains. Soon they discovered that the water that they had first observed was but a small advance guard of the great body of water from the reservoir. Somewhat retarded by a great tangle of tree, logs and debris that it was rolling in front the main body of water was coming 200 yards to the rear of the first water, and it was apparently maintaining a depth of about fifteen feet as it rolled out of the canyon and began to spread over the broad acres of level Circle valley.
Most of the farmers didn't wait for the shouts of the galloping cavalcade of watchmen. Since the gray light of the early morning the farmers had been straining their eyes watching for the return of the watchmen. So when they saw the group of men spurring their horses through a dust cloud, they knew the flood was not far away, and they retreated to the higher ground.
Not all of the farmers heeded the repeated warnings and they, themselves, were the principal sufferers. Walter McDonald, a freighter, was one of the skeptics. He laughed at the warnings and when he was finally convinced that he was directly in the path of the flood he stopped to curry his horses before hitching them to the wagon that was to bear his household good to a point above the probable danger line.
With the aid of neighbors McDonald managed to save three loads of freight destined for merchants in several southern Utah cities, but he was forced to abandon his household goods. It was left in the yard where it had been carried in the hope that it would be taken to higher ground. A grove of trees that caught the debris and formed a miniature dam, saved the dwelling of McDonald, but his farm buildings and furniture floated merrily down the stream.
It was 6:10 o'clock Tuesday morning when the flood waters reached the village. The crest of the flood was about six feet in depth and half a mile in width. On the west it reached a point just west of Fullmer street, the main street of this town. Three hundred yards farther east the flood was at its height in the channel of the Sevier river, raising the river far above its banks and inundating a large acreage on the low lands east of the river.
Formed Natural Channel.
The gravel surface of the main street n Circleville formed a natural channel for the flood waters and they rushed through the street with the speed and appearance of a torrent. Great logs, trees and telephone poles were deposited every few rods along the street by the flood. Sections of fences were taken out by the waters and carried a considerable distance. Posts were pulled up or snapped off by the deluge.
The thatched roof of a farm stable twenty miles to the south was brought down and lodged across Whitaker lane. A folding bed from Robinson's ranch was found in a pile of logs and debris in Circleville. It had been carried thirty-five miles, rolling over and over with logs and trees, but the mirror in the folding bed was not even cracked. A window sash in which there were ten panes of glass, was also found amid the debris. Only two of the ten panes of glass were broken.
The residence of Wesley Reynolds was carried a mile down the river, turned around and deposited on a level point. Dishes on the pantry shelf, preserves on shelves and kitchen utensils on hooks were not even disturbed. The floor appears to have been water tight and the residence acted as an easy riding boat.
A well-built log granary floated around on the water for a while and then lodged on a bar. A corner of the granary had been used as a tool closet and the flood didn't disturb the arrangement at all. A brace still hung by a nail on the wall. Each bit was in its place. A sickle still stayed in the chink between logs.
One house and a pair of haystacks were moved from one farm to another and grouped in true pastoral art near a grove of trees. An occasional chicken coop, with cackling protests from the occupants, floated down toward Junction. Farms in this section were not damaged as much as was at first thought. The crop damage will not be large as there is every indication that nearly all of the crops in the flooded district will come up all right despite their over-sufficient bath.
Among the heaviest losers in this section are Thomas Dobson, whose house and farm buildings near the mouth of the canyon were destroyed and who is also reported to have lost fifty head of cattle; Wesley Reynold, whose house and farm buildings are gone; Dan Munson, who lost several stacks of hay and some corrals; George Horton, whose corrals and barn are washed away; Taylor Whitaker, whose orchard and farm buildings are washed away; Dennis Morgan, who lost several stacks of hay; Simeon Kessler, whose farm buildings are gone; Edward Robinson, who lost his house, farm buildings and corrals, and Walter McDonald, who suffered a heavy loss in farm buildings grain, stock and furniture.
So far as can be learned there has been no loss of life. There is a persistent report that a man and woman who were racing down the canyon ahead of the water had been drowned. They were driving a horse in a single buggy. A dead horse, hitched to a single buggy, was found where the flood receded, but there is no evidence of to whom the rig belonged. Telephone communication is still cut off in all directions, so that no efforts can be made to check the report.
Communication Cut Off.
Immediately after the flood passed Circleville all communication with the north was cut off when the floods carried away a score of telephone poles. Communication in every direction by telephone is still completely shut off.
The bridge at Circleville went out with the first rush of water, and five bridges on the Sevier between here and Panguitch are also out. These bridges were all light, wooden structures, built on concrete piers. Most of the abutments are still good and temporary structures will soon be installed to handle the traffic across the river. None of the bridges washed out was of much value. The one at Circleville had been condemned and would soon have been replaced in any event. The cost of each of the other bridges did not exceed $500.
The most expensive and best-constructed bridge between Marysvale and Panguitch is the "Red" bridge at Junction, which, despite the fact that it was in the center of the flooded district, is still in place and in fair condition. Two truss rods beneath the bridge are broken, but this damage does not materially weaken the bridge. It is safe for traffic. It was crossed yesterday by members of the land board, the state engineer and The Tribune correspondent.
Roads Are Damaged.
It is impossible at present to guess at the extent of the road damage, as most of the roads are aqueducts today, and it will be necessary to wait for the water to recede before the damage can be approximated.
The washout of the Circleville bridge has cut the road from Circleville to Junction, while the washouts of the bridges on the south has made the state road to Panguitch and Kanab impassable. Horsemen and light vehicles have gotten through from Junction to Circleville over the mountain, but the road is long, steep and decidedly rough. Horsemen have come through from Panguitch by making a wide detour and following mountain trails. In some places it is reported that the state road from the south has been completely washed away. This will be determined more accurately in a day or two.
Below Circleville the damage will not prove heavy. The flood waters hit one corner of Junction, inundating several fields and a portion of the cemetery. The fields are draining fast and the loss to the crops will not prove heavy.
Three farms on the river bank suffered the most. The land was cut by the floods and the crops washed out. However, the state had previously arranged to buy these three farms in order to enlarge the Piute reservoir to care for the backwater. The damage, therefore, will not impair the value of the land to the state.
Trout Farm Ruined.
Carl Barnson of Junction is bewailing the loss of his fine trout, which he had in trout ponds near his home. The flood swept over the fishpond and the fish went with the floods. They are probably now in the Piute reservoir. Judge J.F. Chidester of the state land board is fearful lest Barnson's trout will molest the state's fine, registered, pedigreed carp that were previously in the reservoir.
The granary belonging to George Morrell of Junction was taken from his farm by the flood and washed ten miles down the river to the Piute reservoir. It was the only building to reach the reservoir without being battered to pieces. Today it is floating around on the reservoir, looking for all the world like Noah's ark, without any of Noah's animals in it.
Residents of Circleville today began digging ditches, draining the roads and making temporary repairs. They hope to have a temporary road through to Panguitch in a few days.
(Salt Lake Tribune, May 30, 1914)
Tell Story of Their Escape From Flood
Mr. and Mrs. Warren Taylor Warned When Horse Tries to Run Away
Special to The Tribune.
JUNCTION, Utah, May 29.--Word reached here today that the man and woman reported to have been caught and drowned in the Hatchtown flood had escaped death in a remarkable manner. They were Warren Taylor and Mrs. Taylor of Loa. They were eating their breakfast near the mouth of Circleville canyon when one of the horses bolted, giving the alarm.
Taylor managed to get them hitched to the rig and was just trying to escape when the flood struck them. Both Taylor and his wife got out of the buggy and managed to escape by reaching high ground. The horses broke their harness and got up the sides of the canyon. The water carried the buggy, blankets and clothing down the stream.
The horses were recovered. Neither had been broke to ride, but Mr. Taylor managed to ride one and lead the other, which bore Mrs. Taylor.
The flood situation is very much improved today. Word from the Otter Creek reservoir is that efforts are being made to cut down the supply of water reaching the reservoir and to release some that it now has. The dam is still leaking badly and is still in danger, but the engineers who visited the reservoir yesterday believe that it will probably not break.
Temporary roads and bridges are being built and it is believed that within a few days roads will again be open between here and Panguitch. Arrangements have already been begun to supply the farmers on the Hatchtown project with water. A canal will be cut to supply the farmers from the direct flow of the river and a temporary reservoir will be built to store enough water to last during the summer season.
Copyright 2006 by Ardis E. Parshall
| Piute Co. UTGenWeb | Contact Me |