Hassayampa Valley, AZ Flood, Feb 1890

Only know photo of Walnut Grove Dam ARIZ.jpg

Adding to Horrors

It is Now Thought 150 Persons Lost Their Lives by the Dam Disaster in Arizona.

Chapter after chapter is being added to Hassayampa's horror in Arizona. The death list has grown until now it is known that no less than 100 persons lost their lives in the wave that rushed from the main dam of the Walnut Grove water storage company. One hundred acres of valley land were laid bare, and not a plank remains of the houses that stood along the bank of the stream.

Wickenburg was destroyed, every building falling before the awful assault. Eleven dead bodies were left behind there when the flood had passed, one that of a child, four those of women. Seymour, twelve miles further on, next felt the disastrous force of the unrestrained waters, and again the work of devastation was complete. Five more bodies were added here to the number recovered. Smith's Mills went next. This settlement was four miles from Seymour, and how many lives went out with its ruin is not yet known.

Besides the town and settlements which lay in its path, the flood tore away mining works and the scattered houses of miners and herdsmen. It swept the larger part of the victims away with it from the Hassayampa valley to the Gila, thence to go onward to the gulf of California.

The number of dead found and partly identified there has to be added almost forty employes of the company controlling the dam, twenty-one people reported drowned in a Mexican settlement near the Gila Junction, and many others, dwellers in the wrecked towns in the valley, who are totally unaccounted for.

Plattsburgh Sentinel New York 1890-02-28

A Dam Washed Away.
Loss of Life and Property in Arizona.

Arizona on Saturday had a disaster which greatly resembles the Johnstown catastrophe. The dam which had been built on Hassayvampa [?] river by the Walnut grove storage and irrigation company, gave way, letting about 3,000,000,000 cubic feet pour down upon the lower level. The earliest reports show that at least forty people and many houses were swept away, and the fear is that later accounts will reveal a far more terrible calamity.

The dam, which has been finished for about eighteen months, was 110 feet high 410 feet wide at the top and 145 feet wide at bottom, with thirty feet “backing”. Work on it was begun early in 1887. Every pound of rock used in the construction was blasted from the sides of the granite canon [sic], the outlet of which is spanned. The dam was ten feet thick at the top, the thickness increasing with its descent. Its walls were massive granite block, hand-laid, while the space between the walls had been carefully filled in with smaller stones. Cement being unavailable the whole water face of the big dam, including the top, was covered with a double apron, or skin, of three inch planks, lined with tarred felting, calked [sic] and painted with water-proof paint. At the bottom of the dam was a gate, 5 x 5 feet, and at the top, to the right of the great structure, a waste-weir, originally 20 x 6 feet, but recently enlarged to 40 x 8 feet, had been cut in the solid rock of the canon [sic], with a grade of 1 foot in three. The lake formed by this dame covered about 750 acres, and was ordinarily 100 feet deep.

Plattsburgh Sentinel New York 1890-02-28