Denver (Morrison), July 24, 1896

From a newspaper account of the events of July 24, 1896:

Friday evening the fierce black clouds in the west brought early darkness. A light rain drove the people into their houses, lamps were lighted, and the children were put to bed. Up town there were the usual loiterers in the stores and some stood by the open doors watching the rain fall. The air was calm and still and there was nothing to even indicate the change that was coming.

Suddenly a sullen roar, resembling thunder, yet more sustained, so that none mistook it for that noisy sound. Among those in the store, several had heard that sound before and knew its meaning. Their faces paled as they shouted, "A flood, a cloudburst!" Around the bend came the monster, appearing as a log-crowned curling wave ten feet high. It did not look like water, having more the appearance of a solid mass, dark as night, with a luminous crest.

It seems to move with almost lightening-like rapidity. When it reached the bridge above town, the first object that seemed to be in its path, there was no clash; the bridge hesitated but an instant, moved slowly from its piers, then went rolling end over end down past the depot until the railroad bridge was reached. Here there was a moment's resistance, but the water simply paused to wait for reinforcements.

Following the 1896 flood, the Rocky Mountain News reported that

"Less than two days ago Morrison was considered the most delightful, quiet and peaceful summer resort in Colorado. Today [July 26, 1896] it is a mass of wreckage and ruin, the people panic stricken and a number of those who were inhabitants are either lying at the morgue awaiting burial or are buried under an enormous mass of debris somewhere between Denver and Morrison, perhaps never to be found until Gabriel sounds the last trumpet on the day of judgement."

A day later, an update appeared:

"Morrison Will Live"

"The disastrous flood at Morrison has caused the active circulation of a rumor to the effect that the town would be abandoned by the people there. There is no reason or truth for the foundation of such a report. While Morrison has received a severe blow, she will recover promptly and there is not the slightest danger of a repetition of such a flood, for several years at least. ..."


Intense rainfall on 24 July 1896 centered on Cub Creek, a tributary of Bear Creek near Evergreen. "Without a moment's warning the largest flood that ever came down Bear Creek struck Morrison about 8 o'clock tonight (July 24), sweeping everything in its path ... although the water came down through the town nearly 3 feet deep in the main street, the buildings in the business section all withstood it." Twenty-seven lives were lost in the flood (available records do not indicate where the deaths occurred) and severe damages were reported from Evergreen to the mouth of Bear Creek. No rainfall records of this flood are available. The peak flow on Bear Creek at the Morrison gaging station was estimated at 8,600 cfs, which is the flood of record for the gage. The most recent hydrologic studies indicate that this flood would have a one in 40 chance of occurring in any year. It is not known to what extent Mount Vernon Creek contributed to the Morrison flooding.