I've been looking for info on the effects of the Christmas 1964 flood on the upper Clackamas. Here are a few photos that I've found.
Hwy 224 washout at Carter bridge .
Hwy 224 washout at Memaloose bridge
Logjam behind North Fork Dam estimated at 100 acres
Collawash Road repair
It must have really been something to see, although not a good time to be out in the woods! According to PGE, the flood peaked at 86,900 cfs at Estacada at a height of 28.4 feet, a level 50 percent greater than the previous record in 1907. By comparison, the 1996 flood peaked at 68,900 cfs and a height of 27.6 feet.
Wow, Doug, those are cool photos. I wonder where the rest of Carter Bridge went?
And may I ask where you found them? I'm always looking for stuff like that.
There are also some other pictures of the rebuilding of road 63 in the Collowash canyon on the historical items page here on trailadvocate.org:
I doubt they would be able to use that heavy equipment in the riverbed like they did way back then. Although maybe there are improved methods that wouldn't require them to do that now.
At any rate, those photos you found show a very angry river. Thanks for posting them!
Regarding Carter Bridge, I don't know if there was any more to the bridge than that. It looks to me like the river eroded the land away at the end of the bridge. I haven't found any pre-1964 photos of that area so I don't know for sure.
I found those photos by googling "1964 flood Clackamas River." I don't remember the specific site, although I think it was a State of Oregon agency site. Lots of photos of the river at Oregon City, but not many from up in the forest.
Thanks for the link to the historical photos on this site. Somehow I missed seeing those before. interesting stuff. I wonder what the Collawash road looked like before the flood. It must not have been as substantial as it is now.
You know, I bet you are correct. That kind of makes sense now - I always wondered why there was that big gravel area on the south side of the bridge - I think that was all fill! If you look at the aerial view, I think you can kind of see the fill area, which looks suspiciously like the washed out area in the photo you posted:
I recently came across some articles from the Oregonian describing the 1964 flood damage. They provide some details about the Carter bridge move and the rebuilding of Hwy 224 up the Clackamas and Rd 63 along the Collawash. The 1967 article talks about how dangerous the highway used to be, and was known as "The Torture Highway." I can't recall if I was ever on that highway before the new alignment was constructed, but the thought of how it must have been with all the log trucks on the road makes me appreciate the easy drive it is today.
I saw a brief mention in another article (not one of the attached) which said that the Carter bridge move was accomplished for a mere $150,000 (the original estimate was $500,000). The story is that the flood caused the channel to be relocated, leaving the bridge more or less high and dry. So they moved it over to where it would span the new river channel. There was a detour in the interim using logging roads. That must have been an arduous detour, and it lasted for two and a half years.
Thanks for posting these articles. Interestingly enough, I recently had conversations with a family that lived up in Oak Grove during the "big flood". She said that there was a temporary bridge built across the Clackamas where Carter bridge washed out that was up in 5 or 6 weeks. During that time, they had to take the long way around (over Mt Hood) to get back into town. She said they were really happy when the temporary bridge was built so it didn't take 2 hours to get to town.
It also looks like the Carter bridge was not actually re-located but that fill was just put in place to route the river back to where it originally flowed (at least that is what it looks like to me). Either way, it is interesting to read about the flood. It was definitely a lot bigger than the '96 one for sure.
The other thing that was interesting to me was the language they used in those interviews - in the 60's you can tell it was all about logging and getting logs out of the woods. Much different than today.
Interesting about the temporary bridge, and surprising that it wasn't mentioned in the newspaper articles. It must have been located downstream of the main bridge. It isn't visible in the photo of the steel bridge relocation work in 1967 which shows the river upstream.
According to the newspaper articles Carter Bridge was in fact moved so that it spanned the relocated river channel after the flood. The original site of the bridge on the east side of the river was then filled in with rock to connect the relocated bridge to the highway on the east side. That's described in the July 1967 Oregonian article. It's also described in another article in Sep 67, the subject of which was the company which completed the move. The Carter Bridge move was just one of many large moving projects done by LeBeck & Son, and only got one paragraph in a long article. Apparently this was a routine sort of job for them.
An little bit of history to think about while we zip along Hwy 224 on our way to the trailhead.
Carter Bridge was definitely moved to cross the new river bed, created by the flood. I was 6 years old at the time of this flood, and lived in tiny little Oak Grove. My memories include the deep snow prior to the flood, learning the word "Chinook" as that was what caused the sudden snow melt & flooding. The day the snow melted, Dad was at work, and Mom discovered we had a small pond forming in our front yard and going under the house. She headed outside to dig a trench to the edge of the hillside, so the water could flow away from us. We didn't have any news of the flooding at that point, but it affected our lives in a memorable way for about 6 weeks: the Clackamas River Highway washed out completely in spots, and the only way to get out was the treacherous drive past Timothy Lake to Hwy 26 along the Skyline Road. So the Forest Service arranged for us to phone in orders to the market in Estacada, and a helicopter was dispatched once a week to bring us our groceries! That made quite an impression on my 6-year-old mind, driving a few miles to meet the helicopter, watching it arrive. Finally, there was a lane repaired and safe for driving out ourselves. Dad stopped at one point for us to look strsight down, so many feet below us, to the river, back in its bed and normal sized. I could see cages of chain-link fencing far below, with boulders in them. Dad told me that was how they were rebuilding the entire hillside that had been holding the road up! And then we got to Carter bridge, and Dad explained about how it had been moved to go over the river. I was fascinated by the cut-off end of the old road where it used to meet the bridge, just hanging there in mid-air above the river. I remember the massive log jam. Love seeing these photos! Thanks for the memories 🙂
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