Saltville, VA Dam Break and Flood, Dec 1924

The bodies found today increased the known deaths in the CLEAR family to three. A four-year-old girl's body lay beside that of her mother and small brother in the morgue today. The three other bodies were those of children belonging to the STOUT family, other members of which have been reported missing.

The plant of the Mathieson Alkali Works was said to have not been damaged by the flood. The broken dam of the refuse reservoir poured its slimy wave onto only a small portion of the total mill settlement, the majority of the houses being on high ground not in the direct path of the white wall. Six houses, however, were crushed by the tons of mud and water and were swept away. It was in these houses that the greatest death toll occurred.

The situation today was well in hand, the company's physicians declared, ample relief having been administered to the survivors of the flood. All that remained, aside from the caring for the sick and hurt, was the finding of the remainder of the missing and clean up work in the muck-incrusted[sic] valley. The property damage was still unestimated.

(By The Associated Press).
SALTVILLE, Va., Dec. 26 - With nine bodies thus far recovered and six or seven persons still missing, the search for victims continued today in the area of the Holston river valley laid waste by flood of lime muck released by the breaking of a dam Wednesday night at the Mathieson Alkali Works.

While more than a score of injured lay in an improvised hospital here, searchers continued to fight their way through the stretches of lime-whitened mud deposited by the torrent which virtually swept away the little settlement of workers below the dam.

Four or five of the injured are not expected to live and many are suffering from pneumonia resulting resulting[sic] from their immersion in the icy waters and from burns caused by the alkali muck. Many of the rescuers also have been treated for burns.

Several of the bodies recovered had been carried six miles below the dam, in Tumbling creek. Belief that some of the mising[sic] still lay buried under the avalanche of muck, standing waist high in places, kept the searchers at their tasks after more than 36 hours of searching.

The river valley today, with its deep layer of lime mud, had the appearance of an ic[sic] garge[sic]. Houses brushed over and crushed by the height of the reservoir mixture and automobiles covered almose[sic] to their tops by it presented a scene of desolation.

Most of the victims whose bodies have so far been recovered were attending a Christmas Eve party at the home of HARRY PRATER. The house nearest the dam. With only the minute's notice warning of a defening[sic] roar as the dam broke; the merry-makers were rapped[sic] without a chance to save themselves as the house was engulfed.

Occupants of some other houses which withstood the torrent managed to struggle through the mud and water to safety after the crest passed.

The Bee Danville Virginia 1924-12-26

Transcriber's Note: The final death toll of this disaster was 19. A month after the break two bodies, those of HIAWATHA PRATER and LEOTA PRATER were located very near to their house. This brought the total to 19.

Comments

Photos

Photos of this area both before and after and much more info is located at the museum in downtown Saltville.

dam photos

I would love to see the photos also if you are willing to share them. Specifically, photos of the dam before and after it broke would be helpful. [email protected]

muck dam

My mothers familey was in this disaster. Her name was Irean Walk( ferguson} I would like to find out more about her familey members..I believe she lost 3 of her familey members. I would love to here from anyone that can tell me more about my mom's famiely. I was born in a place called, The Brick Yard. My dad's name was Walter Ferguson . Thank You

Saltville Muck Dam

Noticed that you had posted that you had pics before and after the Dam broke in Palmertown... very very interesting.. is there any way you could e-mail these?? I've studied the disaster for several years and find it to be a sad, but interesting bit of local trivia.

dam pictures

i would love to see these pictures. i live in tumbling creek and if possible, do you have these online? i would love if you could email me these pictures. [email protected]

dam pictures

i have before and after photos of the above these are very well perserved under glass they are mudtown sec.