FLOODS AND DROUGHTS
Weather played a very
important part in the condition of the country roads.
Because of these natural disasters, mostly floods, it forced the
improvements of Highway 94.
Through these improvements roads were straightened, built up and
widened. Rocks were removed
to eliminate some of the washouts and closures.
It took from 1 week to 6
months to get the roads passable and repaired after a severe rain storm.
Campo Road was a county road maintained by local supervisors.
They got out after rains with a road scraper drawn by a four-horse
team, It pulled
heavy blade which was operated by a hand wheel from a platform back of the
driver’s seat. The
county budget, which was under the jurisdiction of the County Supervisors
allowed little for improvements.
Following are some record years in weather conditions:
Snow 1882 -
Four feet of snow were reported from Dulzura School through the
Potrero area, In the Clover Flats it was judged to be 40’ to 50’ deep
by Sam Cameron. This was very
unusual and brought everything to a standstill which lasted several days,
even weeks. Dorothy
Schultz (5) said “snow went down to the fork of Otay Road and Hwy
94. Burtons from Jamul Ranch
had started a 500 head herd of cattle to Yuma when the snow caught them at
Campo. They couldn’t go on,
there was no feed, and in trying to return to Jamul lost most of the
cattle. Less than a hundred
made it back to Jamul.”
Both Sam Cameron’s
diary and in “Pioneering in Dulzura” states
“The winter was very wet and continued rain raised the river so
high. The Cottonwood River
was impossible to ford and cattle were lost in the Marron valley” .
1895 - Dorothy Schmid
writes in her book “ Frank Clark (of Dulzura) said the stage
driver was caught somewhere between Campo and Cottonwood River and he
could not ford the river for one week.
The bridge went out (Cottonwood) and on this side it washed out
Shecklers house, orchard etc (at Barrett near the present Taylor ranch) .
From here to town the roads are still impassable except for man and
horses who can get over the hills and likely a wagon cannot get through
for several weeks. The ground
is so wet in many places that horses bog down and must be pulled out or
left there to die.”
1916 - The year of the
notorious Hatfield flood. This
was the BIG flood and raised havoc with roads, canyons, bridges, houses,
and barns. The month of
January got 20.61” of rain and on one day alone 6.90 inches.
Schmid (5) reported in
her book “When the clouds lifted and we could see great and small
landslides on the mountains looking as though some great beast had clawed
them. Entire sections of the
road were gone and not a bridge remained.
The greatest slide, acres in extent, was on the north side of Lyons
Peak where boulders big as houses thundered down the mountain crushing oak
trees into pulp. Canyons were
piled with boulders from above and everywhere the top soil was washed
away. The first messenger to
get through to survey the roads crossed the Sweetwater River on some sort
of cable and then having walked from there to Dulzura where he spent the
night. Borrowed a horse at
Clark’s ranch and rode to Barrett where the bridge was out and continued
on beyond, finding roads gone in many places.
Road crews were already at work doing all they could to make a
passable route.” Henry
McCain was working on the road east
of Potrero “There were great boulders in the roads that had to be
drilled by hand and blasted in pieces so they could be taken out with
teams, also there were immense ditches across the roads”, according to
Ella McCain (4) in her book.
1925-26-27 Other flood years
according to R.O. Harris. The road was washed out between San Diego and
Imperial Valley and the Cottonwood bridge was washed out again.
In the early 1930’ s
there was severe drought. It
was across the nation.
We have had a lot of wet
years which caused severe destruction of the roads.
Because of this, the county was forced to do something about the
roads. Each time the roads were improved it was better, but with
great inconvenience to all.