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A group of people watch flood waters alongside a steep mountain slope - construction rubble along the bank.
Flood escaping through a 60′ wide breach in the dam at Georgetown – click to enlarge

68 Years Ago
The June 7, 1956 Colorado Transcript described a June 4th flood on Clear Creek. “Flood waters roared down Clear Creek canon Monday afternoon after a dam broke below Georgetown when a spillway collapsed. The flood washed out several bridges, sending debris downstream, took out part of Highways 6 and 40 and caused much property damage in Idaho Springs and that area.”

fuzzy newspaper image showing people on the south bank of Clear Creek, watching floodwater filled with debris
Photo taken from the Washington Avenue bridge shows spectators watching the flood – click to enlarge

Fortunately, the canyon widens as it approaches Golden, and the damage here was minimal. The baseball fields in Lions Park and about half a block of 10th Street were covered with water.

City personnel were warned of the impending flood at 11AM and the crest reached us at 3:02PM. According to the City Engineer, the water rose a full foot at the Ford Street bridge between 2:57 and 3:02PM. The flow went from 6.1 miles per hour to 10.4 miles per hour.

The Transcript reported that the flood carried debris from washed out bridges and parts of automobiles. We were in the process of building a new bridge at Ford Street that summer, and the City was very concerned that no harm should come to it. Street and Water Department employees were ready with poles to dislodge any debris that threatened the bridge, but none accumulated. They attributed that to the increased span (10 feet wider) and height (1 foot higher) of the new bridge.

June is always an exciting time to watch the Creek! The USGS provides near-real time information about the flow of Clear Creek.


The Golden Transcript (originally called the Colorado Transcript) has been publishing since 1866. The Golden History Museum has been working on digitizing the historic issues. You’ll find old Transcripts online at coloradohistoricnewspapers.org.

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