On Memorial Day, 1935, Colorado Springs suffered its greatest natural disaster when a series of thunderstorms swelled and then burst through the banks of Monument and Fountain creeks. All but one bridge spanning the creek were destroyed, not to mention the many houses and businesses that lay within the flood plain. We used the pages of the Colorado Springs Gazette in the days following the disaster to shed some light on the reality of the catastrophe and images from the PPLD Historic Image Archive.


7 Responses to The Memorial Day Flood of 1935

  1. HJWithers says:

    Your story is educational and well done. I am confused why you chose the lovely jazzy music to be the background. I find it hard to think of jazz music when viewing such sad photos. I enjoy all your presentations, though. You are an active historian/anthropologist. I hope you get an award someday, if there is one, for all these artistic presentations you place into KRCC’s emails.

    • Craig Richardson says:

      Thank you! Regarding the music, yeah, it’s one of those things that in retrospect makes no sense to me either. The song is “Solitude” by Duke Ellington, written in 1934 and charted in ’35. I wanted something that was authentic to the period and decided on that piece. But I like to look at regrets as guideposts to a better future… Thanks again!

  2. John Cunningham says:

    Wasn’t there a Pathe’ news film showing a man and woman on top of a car as the flood surrounded them? They supposedly were strangers but embraced as the flood waters swept them away? Maybe this is an urban myth, but I think my professor Charles Kutzleb mentioned it.

  3. Mary Ellen says:

    With new commercial development and parking lots near Old Ranch Road & Hwy 83, there’s extensive drainage work going on, with bigger drainage pipes, etc. appearing to dump into the Kettle Creek. Downstream less than a quarter mile, there’s work on the Kettle Creek dam, where the creek is routed under I-25 to reemerge on the USAFA. What happens if we have another deluge and this extra run off dumps into Monument Creek? Are we at risk of another disaster? There’s even more development in the Fountain Creek floodplain now.

  4. Mike Procell says:

    “But I like to look at regrets as guideposts to a better future…” Craig, I really like that – gonna use it as one of my ‘thought for the night’ quotes sometime…

  5. Milt Williams says:

    I remember the 1935 flood. I was 8 and we lived on Willamette Ave., and we went over to where the flood was going through the Monument Valley Park and watched the debris and trees, and I remember a house came bumping and scraping down in the waters.
    In the Black Forest, Kettle Creek had washed out the bridge on what is now Milam Road (obviously named after “Doc” Milam who lived on the north side of Kettle Cr. west of the road. He was a chiropractor who gave me some treatments now and then.)
    We had some relatives visitng from Kansas and they viewed the flood damage with us.
    I remeber we had some “Kodak pictures” of the flood and of Kettle Creek taken by my mother’s Kodak box camera, but I don’t know where they might be now.
    I moved to Idaho in 1954.

  6. Charles Hobden says:

    I recall our parents talking about the 1935 flood as we grew up. I was only 6 months old at the time. They also mentioned the couple stranded on top of their car, but I thought they were newlyweds. The Monument Creek channel was greatly widened and reinforced after that flood, so it should stay within its banks, should we ever have a deluge like that again. That flood also destroyed the beautiful Monument Park that General Palmer gave to the city. It was restored, but it’s only a shadow of what it was before the flood.


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