Mariposa Gazette of January 7, 1862
Reports on the Results of Big Flood and It's Aftermath
The Flood and Rain of December 26, 1861
To begin with, it was the hardest storm, particularly that part
of it occurring
Thursday night, December 26, that has ever swept these mountains,
recollection of that very respectable individual “the oldest
Merced River rose fearfully high, sweeping off every bridge of the
Fremont’s works were submerged, but no damage occurred, due to
strength, except a deposit in the mills of a large deposit of sand
Next Wyatt’s Bridge went, then the bridge of Smith and Hillman at Split
then “Quartz” Johnson’s fine flume at his new mill. In the mill, too,
the flood left
a “card” in the shape of sand about five feet deep. Next went the dam
Chapin’s and Co., or Flint, Peabody and Co., thought to be the best
river. The mill was not damaged. Below the bridges of Nelson and Nurry,
on the Stockton Road were taken off, leaving not a vestige of them.
damage was done in the aggregate all along the river. We hear of great
of cattle and improvements in Merced county, but not sufficiently
justify assertion to that effect. Also it is rumored that something
more than a
dozen Chinamen were drowned on a bar at the lower end of Pleasant
but this we can’t trace to an authentic source.
Mariposa Creek - Should be River
Mariposa Creek, which perhaps ought to be dignified
by the name river,
rose very high, higher than was ever known before, sweeping everything
its course, all the bridges and the railroad bridge. The machine shop
Bros. went over, endways, into the creek, followed by the large
formerly used by Wells Fargo & Co. as an express office. Then came
slide from the mountain opposite town, consisting of an acre or two
ground, to a depth of forty or fifty feet, accompanied by an immense
of water, the sound of which was like that of heavy thunder. The lives
many on the western side of the creek were endangered, but the
of earth and water precipitated itself into a very deep gulch, through
it passed off doing little damage; Shortly followed two smaller slides
no damage. It was the worst day this place had ever seen, except that
following the fire of ‘58. Gardens gone, fences gone, mining implements
gone, fruit trees gone, and we don’t know what isn’t gone along
Creek and other creeks in this region.
In fact no such season to the present time
has been known to white settlers.
If it had happened six years ago, the country would have had to be
This place today has had no communication with “outsiders” nor has
it had for a
week. Even the road to Mormon Bar is blocked up.
submitted by Harriet Sturk- Jan 24, 2003
From History of Merced County, 1881, Elliott and Moore:
"California was visited in the autumn and winter of 1861-62 by a most
"The rain commenced falling on the eigth of November and continued
almost without interuption to January 25, 1862, when the floods
attained their greatest height.
"The streams, swollen by protracted rains throughout California, as
well as Oregon and Nevada, floded the valleys, inumdated towns, swept
away animals, and destroyued property....The Stanislaus, Tuolumne and
Merced Rivers were all overflowed, and houses an villages swept-away"
From the Gazette of Jan 7, 1862--One rain gauge, "kept at the Drugstore
of Gregory and Etly, shows there has fallen since the first rain in
November up to Sunday morning (Jan. 5, 1862), 49 1/2 inches. This is
corroborated by two others."
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