Thursday, December 3, 2015

Walla Walla 1931 Flood

Walla Walla means place of many waters. But at times in the past there was a bit too much water. Mill Creek which flows through Walla Walla has been heavily engineered mill-creek-and-walla-walla. In doing some research for work I came across some images from the State Archives that show the why of that engineering.    

West Alder Street at S 2nd Street

The big flood took place in March 1931. The flood was a classic eastern Washington event: rain then snow then a very sudden warm up with a warm Chinook wind. Alder Street shown above is one and half blocks north of Mill Creek. Walla Walla is essentially built on the broad alluvial plan of Mill Creek. When the creek flooded in 1931 the flood waters were channeled down several of the main east-west streets of Walla Walla.

After the 1931 flood, a huge flood project was undertaken to reduce the flood hazard. This included a dam on Mill Creek, engineered diversions and construction of  deep concrete channel for the creek through downtown including routing the creek through a tunnel. The work was completed by 1941 and subsequent floods have been contained. 

View down West Alder Street

Main Street

Birch Street

Clinton Court

Crescent Street

Clinton Street

West Alder Street (I think)

South 7th Avenue and West Poplar

Clinton Street


Christine H. said...

I remember being fascinated by the tunnel, but now I know the reason behind it. Thank you. Great pictures.

Anonymous said...

I was fascinated to see the picture of the flooding on Birch Street because I grew up at the end of Birch street a block and a half from
the railroad tracks which stopped the flooding. There were huge holes left in the yards in that area that were later filled with anything at hand so most of the yards had more stones than dirt in some places. Our home place was at 912 W. Birch and 924 W. Birch. My mother told us stories about that flood since she was 12 years old at the time. They were fortunate that the house was approx. 3 ft. above the ground level and the water settled at about an inch below the threshold of the door. Most of the other houses in the area were not so fortunate.