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Big Thompson Flood Memorial 1976


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#1 hahn23

 
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Posted 05 October 2010 - 12:33 AM

I was 24 years old in 1976. Married for just two years and my first child would be born in 1977. We had been vacationing with family in Rocky Mountain National Park during the last week of July. The entire week prior to the July 31 flood was marked by big thunderstorms, violent lightning, booming thunder and heavy, heavy rain. Mid-week, we backpacked to Lawn Lake for an overnight in tents that year. No sleep because of the echoing thunder off of Mummy Mountain. The ground was saturated prior to the highly unusual 12" rain event in the park in just 4 hours. My family drove out through the Big Thompson Canyon in the predawn darkness on Saturday morning in a torrential downpour. When we arrived in Des Moines, Iowa on Sunday, we were shocked to hear of the deaths of more than 100 people. (Ultimately, 144 deaths.) A 100' high wall of water had swept through the canyon drowning many campers and homeowners. We may have been one of the last cars to safely travel the canyon heading East on that day. The road through the Big Thompson Canyon was wiped out in many areas for many months. Many homes and businesses were destroyed. It was a sobering, sad event. I think about it every time I drive through the BT Canyon. There's been a nice memorial there for several years. I took time today to stop and photograph.

Posted Image


Posted Image

Edited by hahn23, 05 October 2010 - 01:14 AM.

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#2 jflo

 
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Posted 05 October 2010 - 03:09 AM

Thanks for posting this Richard. July 31st is my birthday. I turned seven on that day and was ignorant of anything that had to do with RMNP. I don't remember even hearing about such an awful event... until I became an RMNP Junkie 12 years ago...

I will have to stop by there on my way up next time.

thanks again!

Edited by jflo, 05 October 2010 - 03:11 AM.

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#3 soatley

 
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Posted 05 October 2010 - 06:00 AM

How lucky for you to have left when you did.

Sandy O
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#4 Melanie

 
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Posted 05 October 2010 - 06:26 AM

I am going to show my ignorance, but I didn't even know that memorial was even there. I do think of that flood when in the BTC because you see the signs, "climb to higher ground if flooding". Where exactly is the memorial?

Thanks for posting this.


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#5 mistylady

 
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Posted 05 October 2010 - 06:34 AM

What an incredible experience! Thank goodness you headed out when you did! We had been fortunate to see the park twice before the 1976 flood. We have some slides of the area prior to 1976. Our children were born in 1977 and 1980. We did not get back to the park until 1988 when they were old enough to travel for 3 solid days and to appreciate the camping experience. I'll never forget the first time I saw all the boulders at the alluvial fan. It was very sobering, indeed. Thanks for showing the monument. I will be sure to stop on our next visit.
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#6 Joyce

 
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Posted 05 October 2010 - 06:42 AM

Richard, thanks for the post on the BTC. We had made it to Estes a couple days after the flooding, not knowing about it, and only to find out our cabin had been washed away. The owner was there and of course reimbursed us but it was a really sad time to see all of the destruction that had taken place. We still have the magazine that was published about the flood and will always keep it. We too look at the Memorial when we pass through the the canyon. Someone above was looking out for you and your family to not be caught in the disaster. Thanks for sharing.
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#7 hahn23

 
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Posted 05 October 2010 - 06:55 AM

I am going to show my ignorance, but I didn't even know that memorial was even there. I do think of that flood when in the BTC because you see the signs, "climb to higher ground if flooding". Where exactly is the memorial?

Thanks for posting this.


Melanie<><

Downstream from Drake about a mile or so, there is a modern fire station on the north side of the road. 80 feet west of the fire station is the BTC Flood Memorial. Not to be confused with the memorial to the fallen policeman and fireman, who lost their lives trying to warn others to evacuate prior to the disaster, which is 300 yards east of the fire station on the north side of the road. There is a pull out and parking area at both memorial sites.



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#8 goatboy

 
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Posted 05 October 2010 - 07:45 AM

we too were out there that week, we had left 2 days before the flood, could'nt believe what had happened in our "extra home" as mom called it. i was 12 at the time and spent most of the summers out there. tragic times
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#9 podunkboy

 
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Posted 05 October 2010 - 08:54 PM

What an incredible experience! Thank goodness you headed out when you did! We had been fortunate to see the park twice before the 1976 flood. We have some slides of the area prior to 1976. Our children were born in 1977 and 1980. We did not get back to the park until 1988 when they were old enough to travel for 3 solid days and to appreciate the camping experience. I'll never forget the first time I saw all the boulders at the alluvial fan. It was very sobering, indeed. Thanks for showing the monument. I will be sure to stop on our next visit.


The alluvial fan in RMNP was actually a result of the 1982 Lawn Lake dam failure, which resulted in 3 deaths and a 6-foot-deep river where Estes Park should have been. I was surprised how the "rustic" Estes Park of my youth was gone when I visited there in 1991.
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#10 mistylady

 
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Posted 06 October 2010 - 10:14 AM

The alluvial fan in RMNP was actually a result of the 1982 Lawn Lake dam failure, which resulted in 3 deaths and a 6-foot-deep river where Estes Park should have been. I was surprised how the "rustic" Estes Park of my youth was gone when I visited there in 1991.


Thanks, got my dates mixed up - 1982 not 1976.
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#11 bjhime

 
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Posted 07 October 2010 - 12:08 PM

Glad you made it out. We, my Mom and Dad and Wife, among other friends camping at the same time, were in the park when that occurred. We were cut off and were not allowed to leave the park; camping at Glacier Basin at the time. I remember water standing about 3" deep all over Glacier Basin CG. Of course, the phones were out, so we were unable to call home or to jobs to let everyone know we were OK. That lasted for several days. When home heard the news, there was no way for them to know our status. Needless to say, it was exciting and scary for all involved. It's nice to know there's a memorial to it.
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#12 Grannyheart

 
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Posted 07 October 2010 - 01:04 PM

I wasn't around here when the flood happened, but the Loveland newspaper did quite an extensive report on the 30th anniversary. Just thought there might be some folks here on the forums who aren't familiar with what happened that night. Hope it's OK to post this link here.....

http://www.reporterh...flood/index.asp
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#13 Rhonda

 
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Posted 07 October 2010 - 01:15 PM

I remember that torrential flood in 1976 because my parents and an aunt and uncle had gone to Colorado in their RV that week and when I heard and saw it on the news I was worried because I wasn't sure where they were at the time. It turns out they were nowhere near the flood, but I do remember the event because of that. I was 22 at the time. And I, too, think about it every time I travel down that canyon. I would like to stop and see that memorial next time I do.
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