Durango’s Worst Flood: October 5, 1911

Rainfall in semi-arid Southwest Colorado is usually a blessing, but in 1911, it was another story after 36 hours of rain dropped 3.42 inches of rain in Durango and 4 inches in Silverton. The storm centered on Gladstone, north of Silverton, which received a Western Slope record, a jaw-dropping 8 inches, a record that still stands today. The deluge that resulted on October 5th that year was described as the “worst flooding in history of southwestern Colorado,” in the Silverton Standard & Caboose. The Animas River was running at 25,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) in Durango. The average for October 5th is 441 cfs. Virtually all crops in the Animas Valley were destroyed, more than 100 bridges were washed away, over 300 miles or railroad track damaged, all outside communication was lost, and there were several deaths. The damage across the region was estimated at more than $1.5 million.