SWALLEY WITH A BANDANA
THAT WAS RED
"Floods from a cloudburst in Four Mile canon, sometimes called Two Mile Canon, swept down the creek at 8 o'clock yesterday morning, laving the farms north of Boulder, washing out Colorado and Southern tracks (located just east of the Diagonal), east of Pleasant View school and damaging roads, bridges and irrigation ditches. The flood came and went in less than five minutes, but left several thousand dollars damage behind. No train reached Boulder from the north for 10 hours.
"One of the worst train wrecks in the history of the West was averted by the presence of mind of G. D. Swalley, whose red bandana kerchief stopped an 11 coach Burlington train.... When the deluge flooded Mr. Swalley's four acres of land, unmindful of his own property, he stationed himself on the tracks a few yards from the flood at the curve in the road, which is one of the most dangerous places on the line....
"A train wrecking crew arrived from Denver at 9 with cinders and ties.... For a distance of 38 feet every tie and particle of dirt had been washed from under the track. They worked in water up to their necks, never stopping from their task for food or from pouring rain.....
"Pioneer farmers say that the Four Mile gulch carried more water Sunday than any time since the fatal flood, 17 years ago. The flood water spread for 200 feet over the McKenzie (stretching from Palo Park to 55th, along the creek), William Terry (now the Elks property and part of Palo Park) and Swalley farms. Surfacing on 12th Street (now Broadway), North 26th (Folsom), and Pleasantview (47th St.) roads was washed away. The monster flume for the Farmers ditch (now located on the Elks property) on the Terry ranch was washed away by flood water. Though the 26th street bridge crossing (now Folsom Street) was covered with three feet of water it was not damaged by the flood. The flood water was from 10 to 12 feet deep on the Terry ranch. Green corn that stands 5 feet high was buried in water. Many thousands of dollars' damage was saved by the fact that the Beasley ditch (now Boulder and Whiterock ditch) that runs just east of the C. and S. tracks caught the flood water of Four Mile creek after it had washed away the railroad track. Persons who saw the deluge say that all the damage was done in less than 30 minutes. Like a monster wave, the flood burst out of the canon from the cloudburst one half mile up in the mountains and carried all before it." Daily Camera, July 31, 1916.
At the same time that the Daily Camera reported this destructive flood, they also reported happily on the rain that this particular storm brought to the County. It appears that this storm was somewhat localized :
"A SPLENDID GROWING RAIN MADE EVERYBODY HAPPY. A dry spell of practically 10 weeks' duration was broken Saturday and Sunday by the participation of 1.25 inches of rain. The last rain storm of any consequence was on High School Day last May. On the 7th of June .53 of an inch of precipitation was registered by the government instrument at the University. The total precipitation for June was .56 of and inch. June and July and the last two weeks in May were "drier" than any similar period in years.....Saturday and Sunday's rain precipitated 2.91 inches at Greeley and practically a like amount in the dry farming district around that city, where many Boulderites are interested." Daily Camera Augut 2, 1916
Ms. Virgie Aragon who lives at 417 Lee Hill Drive was able to provide more oral history. Her father, Mr. A. M. Parsons bought the Wineglass Ranch on the north side of Lee Hill in 1943 from the original owners. Since that time, she reports that she does not know of any flood on Four Mile Canyon that went out of the creek's banks on the alluvial fan between the canyon mouth and Broadway. However, she did report that the original owner told her father that there had been a real big flood that had changed the path of the creek and had taken out some hay fields. She believes the original owner of the Wineglass Ranch bought the place around 1890.
Ms. Aragon also reports that Four Mile Canyon Creek used to flow year-round, and that there was a ditch that went south from the mouth of the canyon. This ditch which carried Four Mile water south filled Wonderland Lake. (Remnants of this ditch, which is called the Mesa Park Ditch on the 1926 Drumm Map of Boulder County, can still be seen along the open-space trail.) Ms. Aragon said that there used to be three ponds in the northerly creek channel along Lee Hill, which used water from 4 Mile Canyon Creek. The ponds did not hold water since she could remember. She says that when the developer of Pine Brook Hills drilled wells for that development some time in the 60's, he hit the springs that supply Four Mile and the Creek has since dried up. She also stated that there is now a lot more mud and sand coming down the creek than in past years. She believes this is due to the new houses and road-cuts up the canyon.
Check out Four
Mile Canyon Creek in BASIN Watershed