’64 Flood, Bridge North of Rio Dell

North of Rio Dell, 1964

I figured I’d get another flood photo in to go with the theme (though if we don’t get more rain soon, I think I’ll have to hunt for drought pictures…). 

I grew up in Rio Dell and watched part of one of the north bridges go again in… I think it was the winter of 1986.   Trees and stumps and other debris began to pile up on one side of the bridge, and I wondered why they didn’t get a crane in there and remove it all (anyone could see that the bridge wouldn’t withstand the force).  At the time it didn’t occur to me that there might not be a crane that big in Humboldt County.  And if there was, that such an operation would be way too dangerous.   And so the river took the bridge. 

I know floods are expensive,  and tragic for those who get injured or lose their lives, but  that much water is… awesome.  When I was young, during flood events I’d watch whole trees float down the Eel.  Our house was above the river and we had a great view.  

We get all caught up in controlling our lives, but all it takes is one natural “disaster” to remind us of how powerless we really are.  I find it very humbling (and a bit of a relief, actually) .


7 Responses to ’64 Flood, Bridge North of Rio Dell

  1. unanonymous says:

    the log jam in ’86 also had hundreds(?) of snakes on it washed up in the debris. Kings, grass and a few rattlers. We spent the morning during a lull in the rain clambering over the log jam exploring with CalTrans workers yelling at us to got off before we die. It washed out a few days later in more rains.

    Looks like a 1964 magnitude flood again would put quite a few houses under water today.

    • lynette77 says:

      Ok, so the snake story kinda freaked me out a bit, even though my son has had a pet snake for years and I usually argue with anyone who says snakes are creepy.

      I shared this comment with someone tonight and all they could say was “Why…?!?!?”

      Glad the river didn’t wash you away !

      I can’t really imagine what a major flood would do today. It seems like there are a lot of houses (and in Fortuna, a few businesses) in the areas that I remember being completely submerged a time or two…

  2. Kym says:

    Didn’t part of that bridge go down also with an earthquake? It just seems to get all the breaks…

    • lynette77 says:

      Hmmm, it seems like it was the bridge at the south end of Rio Dell that had problems after the earthquake, but I’m not sure…

      I know you’re in SoHum and I love driving by the signs that show the high water marks from ’64. Wonderful reminder of what is entirely possible.

  3. Rio Kid says:

    The north Rio Dell bridge originally had three green arches. Following the 1964 flood, the third arch was replaced with a “skyway” type design. The same bridge washed out in 1986 and traffic was rerouted on the southbound bridge for several years.

  4. Michele Hackney Stockman says:

    Dear Lynette,
    You have an interesting site. It’s wonderful that you are writing it down for yourself & future generations.
    My question is this:
    I’m SLOWLY writing a children’s book and the setting is during the 1964 flood…I was a 10 yr. old girl in Fortuna @ the time. What I’m wondering is what info or recollections do you have of the Blue Slide Road area during that time? I’m mostly thinking of the Nally’s home just @ the beginning of Blue Slide Rd.
    I’d so much appreciate hearing from you.
    Thank you,
    Michele 🙂
    email address: violetswamp@sbcglobal.net

  5. Tom Lisle says:

    I would like to use this photo for a press release about a 50-year commemoration of the 1964 flood to be held at the Arcata Theater Lounge on December 21. Do you have the copyright or the source of the photo?

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