Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Weott @1950, and after the 1955 flood.

View looking north on Avenue of the Giants in @1950, It was then Highway 101. click on photo for full screen high res. picture. After the '64 flood there was a road barricade sawhorse left in the powerlines thirty five feet above the street level.

View looking south.
Weott was partially rebuilt after the '55 flood but was completly devastated after the '64 flood and was moved up the hill above high water.
The two photo’s at the top are by Art-Ray photography and have been donated to the Garberville Rotary Club, and to be used for historic purposes. The Rotary club owns the high resolution negatives that were produced for the purpose of selling postcards. Rotary has the complete collection of negatives and is interested in using them for historic purposes as you see here. There are about 150 in total. So if you are interested in any thing from Leggett Valley to Weott circa 1950, let me know. You will probably see more on this blogsite someday.

One of the advantages of being a long time resident, and a historian by default because I was born and raised in the South Fork Valley, is that good things come my way. A few years ago out of the clear blue sky I received an envelope of photo’s from a lady by the name of Neva Cimaroli. She said that she had received her uncles photo’s and didn’t know what to do with them because she knew nothing about them and she wanted to donate them to someone who knew something about them and would appreciate them. And, that there was no need to return them. The two photo’s on the bottom are from her uncles collection.

She said that her uncles name was Lee Beavenue, and his wife was Annie. He was a park ranger at Richardson’s Grove California State Park. She didn’t know where the Photo’s were taken, but I was able to determine that they were of Weott, after the 1955 flood. There are about two dozen of them.

The 1955 flood was in most respects more disastrous then the 1964 flood. It caught people totally off guard, because they had no idea that the water could get that high until it happened. Then as it happened they had no plan, and no communication. The whole north coast was cut off for many days, and many bridges were wiped out.


EkoVox said...

Ernie.....I'm surprised I haven't written about my experiences during the 1964 flood. I was born too late for the 1955 flood. Thanks for planting the seed. I will write about it very soon.

Since the generations before us have gone, so very few of us have any idea of the great floods of the past century. I remember them well, oh boy, do I remember them well.

Ernie Branscomb said...

The local High School interviewed our resident "old timers" about the local history, and almost universally they wanted to talk about the '64 flood. It was still fresh in their minds. The kids were given a list of stock questions that they insisted on following. Unfortunately they left a lot of good stories on the table by not following the lead that the old-timers were giving them.

I’m still new at this blogging stuff from my end. Thanks for commenting. I want to make this work because there is a lot of historical information out there that I want to get. And, that takes people commenting on THEIR experiences. I already know mine.

My wife say’s that it is easy, all I have to do is make paint drying sound interesting.

I thought that the drama of a complete modern town’s main street being under thirty six feet of water might spring some interest. Also, the ‘55 flood has pretty much been forgotten because of the dramatically high water of the ‘64 flood.

I used high resolution photo’s, and even car buffs can get into them by simply clicking on the photo. They will enlarge and show great detail. Try it!

capdiamont said...

My parents have video of the '64 flood, on beta, and I think film. KEET made a copy from ours.
Not a happy Christmas. It had the sawhorse, a bridge collapsing on film(vs already collapsed).

EkoVox said...

Merle Shuster from KVIQ-TV filmed a great deal of what is shown as 1964 flood footage. He took the CBS News reporter up and they did the report from the air.
When he retired from being a cameraman, he took the footage home and I believe donated it to HSU Library. Sad to say, he passed away a couple of years ago.

Capdimont, that's good that your family has that footage.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I have a copy, of a copy, of a copy, that started out on 16 mm film that was copied to vhs tape, then copied many more times. The tape is about the 64’ flood. It has footages of the Klamath, the lower Eel basin, the trinity and the Sacramento Rivers. The film was from the three A, (AAA) and it contains governor Edmond G. Browns (Moonbeans dad) dramatic announcement that there was going to be another disastrous flood.

The film is much degraded from broken film and copy deterioration, but is still very informative, and the glitches are not enough to be distracting. The color is a little smeary, but a person can certainly follow the story.

The upper waters of the South Fork of the Eel were not covered much during the flood. People were to busy saving their asses.

I have a friend that makes his career out of establishing potential flood plains for builders and developers He has run many computer projections on the potentially largest Eel River flood. If all conditions that are possible, and have all happened before, happened at the same time, the potential flood could crest at nine feet higher than the ‘64 flood. That almost happened in ‘86? When the rain that was supposed to hit the north coast went through Marin County. Our Rivers were already at full flood stage and if we had received the 14 inches of rain that Marin got we would have had, at least another ’64 size flood, and probably worse.

I live on high ground.

Carol said...

My word! The before and after photos are something!

Greg helped as a Boy Scout loading trucks at Redwood Acres.

Anonymous said...

Very cool, Ernie. Somewhere in those two top pictures is my grandparents restaurant, gas station, and wrecking yard.
I'm glad I found your BLOG.
Thanks, Grandson of The Garners.

bill harris said...

this is interesting, as i was in Weott during the 1955 flood. we lived in Bull Creek, and on the day before the flood i went into town (Weott) with my cousins Bruce and Monty Butler. as evening came on and Weott started to flood, we were sort of trapped there, so we stayed the night with my cousins sister who lived on the hill above town with her husband and children. the next day, Monty and I were down and looking at the town and only a few roof tops were visible of the larger buildings, and Monty had found someone who would lend a rowboat so we decided to see about getting back to Bull Creek. Bruce wanted to stay there, so Monty and i headed north in the row boat. Somehow i got elected to row, and we headed out rowing over the top of highway 101 thru the redwoods. I followed the highway till we were getting close to being across from where Bull Creek came into the Eel, so we decided that if we crossed there it would cut out a long walk, so i headed toward the main channel of the Eel. It was fairly calm in the protection of those redwoods, but boy when i got out into the main stream of the Eel, it was like a freight train, and there were huge log jams which were passing us by very fast and i was having trouble trying to avoid them and we were barely in the main stream and could see that stuff was really going fast out in the center and did not look good at all, i looked at Monty who was in the rear of the boat and he was sort of bug eyed and had white knuckle grips on the sides of the boat, so i said heck with this i am going back, so we did and boy Monty took a while after we got back in the shelter of the Redwoods and again rowing down highway 101 before he relaxed any. We went down to the bridge across the Eel, i think it was called the Dyerville bridge, and there was about two inches of water coming over the south end of the bridge, but the north end was still out of the water. We tied the boat off at the south end and ran like mad across the bridge, as it was being hit by those log jams and making real loud booming noises, and there were some logs already sticking thru some of the railing. We thought for sure the bridge would go out before we got across. I was surprised after that it was still there. So we set out and thankfull that we could walk, headed for Bull Creek.
We were not there for the 64 flood as the redwood groups in souther Califonia and others got the state to condem all private property in the Bull Creek valley, so all were out of there when that one hit. But i did go back in the late 60's when i was showing where we used to live, and the whole of Bull Creek valley was nothing but a gravel pile. Those know it all groups had put in a lot of check dams and Cribbing along the creek, paid for by the state of course and when that rain came and started to flood those little dams they put in all failed and made it worse than if they had done nothing, and the cribbing channeled the force to really cut.
But as for myself i vividly recall rowing down highway 101. it was quite a trip.

Anonymous said...

Ernie, I just talked to my Dad. He said the restaurant wasn't in the pics as I thought it was, it was on the North end of the street. BUT, Uncle Bud's garage (Roy's), was directly across from the "EATS" building.
BTW, Bill Harris, Ron (Duke) Nulph and Deedee (Garner) said to tell you hi, and to pass it on to the Butler Boys.

Dale Nulph(previously anonymous grandson of the Garners)

Anonymous said...

I lived through both floods in Dos Rios. I had a birdseye view from our house on the hill as the Dos Rios bridge floated away. I also saw Deer Lodge get washed away down river complete with chickens on roof as they passed Woodman.I was four in 55'and remember a lot. I was around for the next one and was a teenager going to school in Covelo. Needless to say we could not get to school for months until the river went down and could row across and then take a 16 mile bus ride. Francis Crabtree used to row us across the river and his wife Jeannie would drive us in the bus. Then do the reverse to get home every night. Helicopters dropped food and supplies in 64'from Red Cross.

bill harris said...

hi ernie this is a real neat place with all the tales of back when. BTW, for anonymous say hi to nulph and deedee, i passed their hi on to monty butlers daughter sharon and she passed it on to him and merle butler and wanda butler. that is about all that is left of them now. they were quite a bit older than i was back then as i was a teenager when the 55 flood hit. hey ernie i see you have a pretty good part of your site of native americans, and was wondering if any one knew where the Chadbournes and Dunlaps from Bull creek went to after the park took it over and moved everyone out? i was in the service for 2 plus years and just got out in time for the big exodous of everone from Bull Creek and with helping my folks move and getting my horse out of there missed who all went where.
Great site and memories.
Bill Harris

Grace Hernandez said...

I would like to get in touch with anyone who has history of Pepperwood in the 1920s. My parents ran a cafe and service station there for at least one summer. My mom made pies every day and did the cooking, etc. Thanks for your help.

Grace Hernandez said...

my email address is

Anonymous said...

Back in the 70's I worked for Lee Beavenue (in this article) and knew his wife Annie. He retired from being a park ranger and built a nice home in the mountains near San Juan Bautista Calif. I was just a high school student, but I helped him build fences and clear brush. One day he planted a two bit ax in the top of his foot and I had to carry him up a steep side of a mountain. The hospital was 25 miles away in Hollister. He recovered quickly and we finished building his fence.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I drove along the river yesterday, past Weott, on a road trip. We at first thought there was nothing but a wide dry wash to our left, but then saw a thin ribbon of water snaking along. At one point my wife saw a pole marking a high water level WAY high up. We had already passed it and I said it must have referred to something other than the miserable trickle we were driving by. Well, I read this web site with great interest in the process of finding out more. Living as we do at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers,I should have realized that the Eel can appear equally disarming when it wants. The description of trying to cross in a small boat during high flood was gripping. Lucky that kids are invincible.