Disaster Nearly Drowns Denver In 1933

Dated: 02/01/2019

Views: 2480

Acoma Street

  The Denver Post~ 1933

It was exactly 2:38 a.m. when Denver first learned that flood waters had broken the Castlewood dam, and that a wall of water would rush into the city...Timely warnings that a fifteen-foot wall of water was rampaging down the creek...saved the lives of many persons.Every police car and fire truck in the city was called out shortly before 4 a.m. to warn residents of the "bottom" lands to evacuate and to rescue families which might be marooned.

Speer Blvd at 10th Ave


Approximately one and one-half billion gallons of water passed through Denver in six hours during and immediately after the flood. This water, heavily laden with dirt, deposited a residue of silt within Denver’s city limits which would weigh, at the very least, 20,000 tons.”

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According to the Denver Public Library's Katie Rudolph...

Around 1 a.m. on August 3, 1933, the Denver metropolitan area received a, "terrific battering of cloudbursts." The rains caused Castlewood Dam, an irrigation reservoir located 32 miles southeast of Denver, to collapse. 

"The water that rushed towards Denver was significant, as Castlewood Dam was roughly three times the size of Sloan's Lake".
Dwight D. Gross, chief engineer for the Denver Board of Water Commissioners was quoted by the ;
Denver Post 

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Two people perished in the flood: 83-year-old Tom Casey, who drowned while attempting to save belongings in his home,fell into a hole, could not pull himself out. The torrent surged over him, stilling his screams.  And Bertha Catlin, a 24 year-old woman from Page City, Kansas whose horse "threw her into the swirling waters" while she rode to view the flood damage.

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 A team of approximately 2,500 men worked to clean up the flood's grimy aftermath. Construction projects soon got under way to rebuild the destroyed bridges in the area.Besides mud and washed out bridges, Denver residents endured flooded basements and downed phone and power lines. Displaced residents found shelter in Denver's downtown hotels. 

Castlewood Dam BEFORE


Castlewood Dam AFTER  



This video shows the Cherry Creek Flood of 1933. On August 3, 1933 the Castlewood Dam burst sending a 15-foot-high wave of water from Franktown toward Denver, Colorado. Images include the devastation and aftermath of the flood. This film footage is property of the Denver Public Library and is from the Western History and Genealogy Collection (Call Number WH2114.)


Visit Old Images of Denver on Facebook to explore over 5,000 photos of historic Denver and Colorado!!

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Interested in learning more about the 1933 flood? Stop by The Denver Public Library's Western History/Genealogy department to peruse August 1933 newspapers on microfilm or to view the following items: 

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J Steven Opp

J Steven is a proud native Coloradoan born and raised here in Denver. His love for this city is reflected with his Denver history page on Facebook “Old Images of Denver”. Steve serving in the Colo....

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