National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce



Republican River Flood of 1935

A Closer Look at

Idalia, Colorado


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 Personal Stories from Idalia




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 Newspaper Articles from Idalia

The Wray Gazette

Wray, Colorado, Thursday, June 13, 1935 [Page 1]
(Idalia Correspondent)
On the forenoon of May 30 residents living between Idalia and the South Fork of the Republican, coming into town to try to ascertain the extent of the damage done the night before, reported a river flood without precedent except in Indian tradition running back far before our earliest pioneer days but remembered by our early Idalia settlers in a warning given by a friendly Indian Chief to the founder of the Bar-T ranch, "White man, build too close to the river. Indian sees water from bluff to bluff."
At the Burlington crossing the whole bottoms were a waste of tossing water, covered with great trees that had stood for generations and with lighter debris of every kind; with a terrific current in the center which appeared to stand many feet many feet above the water along the bluffs and in addition was covered with rolling white capped waves that appeared in places to rise twelve or fifteen feet in height; while the whole valley was filled with a roar that could be heard inland a distance of five or six miles.
The first intimation to Idalia of the tragic deaths and heroic rescue east of Hale came in late afternoon when Joe Busby and Kenneth Wiley passed going west in an attempt to gain telephone connections with Kanorado or Goodland to ask them to try to send rescue parties through to the south side of the river at a point near the state line.
No one seeing them could fail to be impressed with their appearance and anxiety and eager haste.
Below Hale, they said, the whole Harding family: father, mother, Myrtle, Alta, Alfred, and Rodney had been swept away at five o'clock by a wall of water that in places seemed to be twenty feet in height.
The father, the mother and one child had been lost. The remaining three children had carried for [sic] down stream but had caught in trees and rescuing parties from the State Line Community were attempting to reach them from shore.
Here in the early morning had come Melvin Catt of Jaqua, and an unknown young man from near St. Francis, strong swimmers, both determined to swim a three hundred yard channel into which to venture was almost certain death.
They were kept almost by force from making the desperate attempt and that afternoon a raft was built, launched, and manned by men never before on a raft and driven across the still furious current, free--unrestrained by ropes, to rescue the oldest girl, Myrtle, just before a blinding dust storm came up from the east.
In the meantime the younger girl had escaped on the south side and the upper force shifted one mile down stream where another State Line group was trying to reach the remaining child. Here working all night by dim lantern light the combined forces, just at day-break, succeeded in a seventh attempt to drive across the a captive raft guyed by ropes and rescued Alfred, the remaining child.
Dr. Garcia, who had been taken to the scene to render first aid and remained all night, says that the actions of these men, working in a practical darkness, were those of unquestioned heroism.
The Idalia community pays since tribute to their neighbors on the state line who have risen to a height of stature that will keep their names in remembrance as long as we honor our truly great.
It has been suggested here that this community lead in securing a suitable memorial for these men, which can be kept, perhaps at some church or high school near the state line, or perhaps at Beecher Island, some memorial not valuable, necessarily, for intrinsic worth but valuable instead, as symbol of faith in higher ideals.
For the whole effort of these men is epitomized in Holy Write in the words of the Master recorded by....[missing rest of article.]

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