Roseburg, OR Area Mudslide Crushes Home, Dec 1955


Roseburg, Ore. (AP) -- Five members of a family were killed yesterday when a mudslide broke loose in a canyon, crashed down on their home and shattered it to bits. Somehow, three children survived.

The five deaths raised Oregon's storm-flood death toll since last Wednesday to 12. Three others are missing.

Dead are MARION E. NEAL and his wife ACERENA, both about 45, and their children, MARY, 15, BECKY, 12, and TOM, 17. The bodies of all but TOM were recovered. He is buried in the mud at the slide scene near Remote, a little south-west Oregon community 40 miles west of Roseburg.

Those who survived were MARGARET ELAINE, 13, who suffered neck injuries; BILLY, 6, cuts and bruises and ALVIS, 8, unhurt. MARGARET ELAINE and BILLY were taken to a Roseburg hospital.

Douglas County Coroner L. L. Powers said the stunned children were unable to give a coherent account. But he pieced together this story:
At about 4:30 a.m. a huge wave of mud, higher than the NEAL'S one-story frame house, broke from a canyon and crashed over the structure. It swept pieces 300 feet across a field.

"There aren't two sticks of wood still nailed together," Powers said.

The family was in bed. The three surviving children finished the night huddled together, then looked for their parents.

The tragedy was discovered about 9:30 a.m. by John Cawrse, the NEAL'S closest neighbor, who lives a mile away. He notified authorities, who had to fight their way for hours through numerous slides to reach the area.

Fort Pierce News-Tribune Florida 1955-12-27


Remote landslide

It's amazing what one can find on the Internet after nearly 60 years. My dad built the house that was swept away during that horrific mudslide. I lived there about five years until Dad sold that mini-10-acre ranch three years earlier and bought a 300-acre ranch in another Remote location. If I remember correctly, there was a huge lawsuit involving the logging company Georgia-Pacific because the logged-off area above the falls directly across from the house had not been properly cleared of logging debris. I think the three surviving children had been swept under cars on the property providing shelter from gigantic logs and a 15-foot deep lake of mud.
Interestingly enough, John Cawrse, who is mentioned in the article, his wife and four young daughters were later killed when their private plane was reportedly struck by lightning and crashed in eastern Oregon. Three sons had stayed at home.