Sunday, July 24, 2011

Peter Hafen Remembers the July 24, 1946 Flood

Photos were taken by Dr. G.B. Madsen and submitted by his daughter, Lynn Madsen.

On July 24th   (or 25th), 1946 there was a baseball game at Mt. Pleasant at the North Sanpete Baseball field. I was there watching the baseball game. It was a mostly sunny day downtown Mt. Pleasant.  A big black rain cloud crossed the east mountain, and put down an excessive amounts of water.  Someone hollered out at the game “There’s a flood coming, everyone better leave for home”. My brother, Donald, Cameron Maxwell and myself decided to run over to   Pleasant Creek and look at the flood.  At that time there was a foot bridge on each side of the auto-traffic bridge with a 2 by 6 inch railing running between the footbridge and traffic bridge, both running horizontal to Pleasant Creek.  The three of us were   leaning on the railing, watching the water rise in the Creek and hearing the rocks clunking down.  The water was almost up to the top of the bank when some guy came by, crossed the bridge and stopped on the other side, got out of his vehicle and cussed us hollering “You kids better git for home.” That scared us and we turned to head back to the ball field. We were only about one or two steps away from the railing, when the bridge railing went into the creek.  We went back to the ball park where my mother found us. She had been desperately looking for us.  We hopped in her car and went west on second north, looking for a way to get across the creek, so we could get home. 
We saw all the bridges from State Street to Fifth West being taken out by the flood.  We barely made it across the fifth west bridge when through the back window, we watched the same bridge we had just crossed, collapse into the flood.
 When we arrived home, a large pine tree came down Main Street in the flood.  It wedged between the railroad track and the railroad sign at an angle, which diverted most of the water coming down Main Street across the highway and to the north side of the road.  We had about a foot of mud in our front yard, but due to the pine tree diverting most of the flood across the road to the north side, our neighbors across the road, the Braby’s got more mud than we did.  The Braby yard had about two feet of flood mud.  The water came up to my grandmother, Carrie Hafen’s front porch to about an inch of the door. She was living across the road from us at the time.  John Maxwell and Bert Hafen put on their hip boots and were going to get my great grandmother, who was an invalid, due to a fall and broken hip. Before they got to her, the flood had subsided and the water and mud didn’t get any higher than an inch to the door
 The mud and water subsided in the following week. We spent our time digging items out of the Braby’s yard that had come from Rex Matson and Leonard Eliason’s electrical and sporting goods store.

Both were located in Dr. Mills Optometry building, which was located on State and a little north of Main.  The flood wiped out half of that building.  When we took the items we had found back to the owners of the store, we told them that there was a three foot square box still intact that we hadn’t disturbed. The box had  the store’s name on it.

They came down to Braby’s yard and dug it out.  It contained a large, beautiful chandelier. Luckily there was no damage to it. 
Daniels home on 400 East and 100 South

Rex Matson appreciated what we had done; retrieving items from his store and telling him of the big box containing the chandelier.  He gave us a softball mitt and a softball bat that we had dug out of the mud.  We were happy for the prize.

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