In late February 1932, neighbourhoods all over Trail experienced the devastation of snow, rock and mudslides which were occurring all throughout the Kootenays that year due to an early thaw.
Late on Friday, Feb. 26, a creek dam let loose a torrent of mud and debris, filling every “hollow” along Fifth Avenue with mud up to five feet high, shown in this photo taken the following day.
Manholes were difficult to locate and water pooled in flatter lands near the East Trail elementary school.
In West Trail, slides began behind Daniel Street, eventually blocking Riverside Avenue and the bridge, the only thoroughfare across the river.
In Glenmerry, known as Merry’s Flats back then, the Glenone Dairy barn was destroyed by falling rocks, killing one cow. City crews used planking to direct water away from homes and basements, specifically at Fourth Avenue and Goepel Street.
It took a week to fully control the waters in East Trail, with plenty of clean up to follow.
Read more: Trail Blazers – The Company Store
Of course, newspaper reporters were on the scene documenting the event. Below are briefs from the Trail Daily Times, dated Feb. 27, 1932, describing the disaster.
CPR TRAINS TIED UP, BIG SLIDES
A damned creek that tore itself loose late last night piled four and five feet of mud in East Trail today beyond the city limits near Conklin & Garrett grounds; forced four families to vacate their homes in this section; and filled every hollow in the direction toward ‘Little Scotland,’ forcing another family to move out.
At the rear of East Trail school there was seven feet of water at 2 o’clock this afternoon and only one man-hole cover in this particular section had been located.
It was sufficient to drain off the water and in the centre of the pool, where the water was seven feet deep, city workmen were ‘fishing’ for another man-hole, the depth was steadily increasing.
FEAR FOR LITTLE SCOTLAND
It was feared “Little Scotland” would be next to suffer. (Neighbourhood where the Trail Aquatic Centre and former Trail Middle School is located today.)
To the west of the school where the stream came down through a draw dividing the big bench, mud was piled high around several houses, water was flowing on each side of others. Two outside toilets showed only a foot and a half or two feet above the mud. On lower Riverside below the bridge two slides, which crossed the road, could be seen from the opposite side of the river.
The Glenone dairy on Merry’s Flats appeared to be the heaviest sufferers in numerous slides about the city. It was reported this afternoon that a slide consisting largely of rock smashed up one of the Glenone barns and killed one cow. Another barn was filled with debris it was said. The owners of the dairy were able to turn their stock loose in time to save all but the one cow. On Daniel Street, a big slide coming down off the mountainside came close to the residences but no appreciable damage was done. Mountainsides about the city showed great patches today where had been slides.
TRY TURN WATER
Near the Conklin & Garrett grounds men were working during the night and today to confine the water to one course. Mrs. A. Olsen, J. Beyko, W. Williams and Mike Ruzinski were compelled to move out. The Olsen, Ruzinski and Williams homes were surrounded by mud and the Beyko house stood in the middle of the stream, with water running on each side of the house and through it.
Across the street water was running on both sides of S. D. Stewart’s house, with the C.H. Harrison and Norman Walton properties suffering considerably.
The water piling up behind East Trail School forced F. Bone to move out. If this water continues to pile up, the basement floor of East Trail school will be filled shortly with water.
At the S. Lennox property the house was high enough, it appeared, to escape higher water, but a raft was in use in the front yard of the property.
SLIDE ON DANIEL
Snow slides starting on the rear of Daniel Street caused much noise and threw consternation and fear into residents of the vicinity late last night and in the early hour of this morning.
No damage resulted as the piles of snow, mud and rocks came to a stop before they reached the level of residences. The Charles Perkins residence was in the path of the slides but was not damaged.
One slide from the hills did reach lower Riverside beyond the bridge about 1 o’clock this morning. City gangs were immediately put to work to clear the thoroughfare. There was no material damage outside the blocking of the thoroughfare. As in other localities residents suffered sleepless nights.
ROAD TO DUMP BLOCKED
A series of slides have taken out the roadway at various points beyond the city limits on the south side of the river. City garbage trucks are now unable to reach the dumping ground.
The city engineer and his staff were kept busy throughout last night, with calls from various sections of the city affected by the thaw.
Trail Creek is riding fast but the situation along its course at this time is not dangerous.
ROAD WASHED OUT
Columbia Garden road was washed out at the far end of Merry’s Flats during last night. The road is now passable but is not particularly easy to negotiate. A large crew of government employees are at work at the scene of the washout.