Highest Water Mark In Man’s History

Touches Mark of 3.40 Feet

Boom at Sawmill Broke, Bridge Carried Out, and Considerable Damage Done to Dam–Other Reports of High Water.

The staid old Deschutes has behaved shamefully during the past week, and has recorded a high water mark never before witnessed “in the memory of the oldest inhabitants.” The snow fall of a fortnight ago, followed by the prolonged and heavy rains of the past week, sent the old river on a small rampage, and did not inconsiderable amount of damage at Bend. The highest mark was recorded on the 26th and 27th when the gauge at the pumping station showed 3.40 feet. The crest  of the high water and on the 28th showed 3.20 feet and on the 29th it had dropped to 3 feet. At Bend where the gauge is stationed the river is exceptionally wide and the water undoubtedly “piled up” at much greater depths in other and narrower parts of the canyon.

This was the highest water ever known on the upper Deschutes. A. J. Awbrey, one of the oldest settlers on the  river, says that on February 11, 1907, the river at Bend registered 2.5 feet, which was the high mark up to that time. Thus the recent “flood” registered nearly a foot more water than there was in 1907. At this time the waters have gone over and buried all existing high water marks along the banks.

The damage at Bend was done late Friday afternoon, when the boom at the sawmill broke, letting out almost 150 logs. The flood carried these down rapidly and smashed them against the bridge at the mill crossing, tearing it out and making drift wood of that structure in short order. The liberated logs then raced down the river to where the power dam is being built. At that place timbers had been set in the river, across its entire width, to form supports for a bridge, from which load alter load of rocks were to be dumped  to form a part of the dam. These upright timbers were knocked over and carrled away, four bents only being left standing in the channel of the stream — two at each side. The high water and logs also tore out the foot bridge at the Linster place.

This was about the sum total of the damage at Bend, although the water overflowed the small dam built to divert, the river away from where the men were working on the larger structure, and caused a cessation of labor for several days. Practically no damage was done, however, in this particular.

No bridges have been washed out either above or below the town, although it was feared at one time that the new county bridge at Laidlaw would go out. A week ago Tumello creek went on a rampage, tore out the Columbia Southern headgate, and uprooted many large pine trees along its banks. The high water carried one of these down to the Laidlaw bridge and it lodged lengthwise across the pillars of that structure. This log was about 200 feet long. Two other logs were carried down and piled on top of the first as nicely us a crew of men could have done it. With the high water and the accumulated drift wood, one can Imagine the tremendous pressure that was thrown against the bridge. The men at Laidlaw heard of the precarious condition and voluntarily went down to do what they could to relieve it. They chopped out the branches of the trees, but on account of the lack of equipment, were unable to dislodge the logs As soon as possible the county officials got a crew to work. The logs were removed by sawing them into short lengths and letting the current carry them away. The bridge was not materially damaged, although the pressure had been so great that two or three bents were moved six or eight Inches down stream and one side of the structure was lifted a trifle higher than the other. At this time the bridge at the W. P. Downing homestead was also washed out.

Above Bend the ferry used by John Peters went out and washed against the new bridge in that locality, and the water began to pile up above the bridge. Millard Hawthorn discovered the trouble and chopped out the obstruction before any damage was done.

Several bridges are out on Squaw creek. The bridge across the creek a short distance east of Sisters went out and the water gouged out a channel that will require a structure 200 feet long to span it. At the bridge at the old Camp Polk place, the creek cut a new channel about six feet deep.

Dan Heising was In Bend last week from his home on the Matoles and reported that he knew of three bridges on tributaries of the Matoles that had been washed out, and that there was much high water through all that country.

When the rains started on the 18th, the water in the Deschutes stood at the Bend gauge at 1.28 feet. The story of the rise and fall is told in the following readings:

18th–1.28 feet.
19th–1.35 ”
20th–1.50 ”
21st–1.60 ”
22nd–2.15 ”
23rd–2.15 ”
24th–2.22 ”
25th–2.70 ”
26th–3.40 ”
27th–3.40 ”
28th–3.20 ”
29th–3.00 ”

Source: Bend Bulletin