Excerpts from Sacramento Daily Union - Prelude, heavy fall snows (in progress)

(c) 2012, Mike Barkley


Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 22, Number 3337, 7 December 1861 p. 2


UNFORTUNATE--Indian Agent Hanson, while endeavoring to cross the mountains recently, with about three hundred head of cattle for the Nome Cult Reservation, was compelled by the depth of the snow and the exhausted state of the cattle to abandon the whole drove, being unable to save a single head.

p. 3


YESTERDAY -- A strong southerly wind prevailed in the latitude of Sacramento during the greater portion of yesterday, which, together with a lowering sky and a drizzling rain, gave promise of a severe and prolonged rain. The effect of the wind was seen and heard in the breaking down of swinging signs, the tearing of awnings, the loosing of tin roofs, etc. Notwithstanding the mud in our streets and the slight rains through the day, there was constantly dust enough in the atmosphere, gathered up from some unknown and unimaginable source, to blind temporarily the eyes of all who were not guarded in the use of it. . . .

A HARD TRIP.-- It is generally supposed that the climate of California is a mild one. So it is in many localities. The following case, cited by the Red Bluff Beacon of Dec. 5th, is an instance of severe weather and hard traveling:

L. C. Johnson, of the firm of Reis & Co., left the neighborhood of Downieville nearly four weeks since, and only succeeded in reaching here last Sunday. He reports immense quantities of snow on the mountains, almost down to the Sacramento Valley. For several days he was not able to make over five or six miles each day. Johnson is a stout and able man, and has been for many years engaged in driving cattle over the mountains, and the trail must indeed have been very bad to cause him to have been so long in making the trip. He says the "oldest inhabitant" represents that it has been the hardest storm, for the first one of the season, that has occurred for many years.

Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 22, Number 3338, 9 December 1861 p. 4


The heavy storm of wind and rain has not only suspended telegraphic communication between. California and the East, but has obstructed most of the State lines. The fall of rain at the North of us has been very heavy, and the Yuba, Feather. Sacramento and American rivers are still raised to a threatening hight. All over the country the roads are bad, and in many places, unpassable. Bridges have given way before the freshets in several mountain streams, and altogether the rain is making considerable trouble . The stage which connects at Lincoln with the railroad, and conveys passengers to Marysville, failed to reach the latter place up to a late hour Saturday evening, although due at one o'clock in the day. A portion of the Yuba has taken a short cut into the Feather river, leaving i's [sic] old course at a point a little above its mouth, and crossing the fields to empty into the Feather, farther down stream. If the Yuba river has drawn out from under the Yuba river bridge at Marysville, the approach to that city from the south side of the river will be rather inconvenient uutil ferry accommodations are provided. . The Yuba river was within three inches of high water mark of last [?]: winter, yesterday morning. We learn that the north fork of the American river at Auburn was higher last evening than it was ever known to be before.

At this point the Sacramento and American are up to a high mark, but not so high by four feet as they stood several weeks last winter. . . .

THE STORM.--The storm of the past week has been severe in the northern section of the State, carrying away a number of bridges and rendering some of the mountain roads next to impassable. At Marysville on Friday the fall of rain was very heavy, and the Yuba and Feather rivers were rapidly rising. The Appeal of yesday [sic] ran [?] the following, in reference to the storm:

Night before last the storm of wind and rain increased to a great hight, and extended, it would appear, over a great circuit of country in this vicinity. The towns as far up as Strawberry Valley and the Columbus House report rain having fallen in large quantity, and, as a consequence, all the creeks and larger streams have filled up with astonishing rapidity. Nearly all of the stages were late, and some of them, the San Juan, Downieville and Lincoln, failed to arrive at all up to a late hour last night. The Lincoln stage was detained by the rapid rise in the sloughs between this point and Johnson's, though it would have been impossible to reach town [?] by the road over the Yuba bridge at this place, as the Yuba was making a clean sweep across the tongue of land between the Feather and Yuba at dark last night. The Yuba's rise was about nine feet at that time, and the rise in the Feather something less. Should the rise continue we should have another disastrous freshet, but the sudden rise of the streams, so unusual for this season of the year, is not likely to be any greater, and, unless more rain has fallen in the mountains than here, the fall will be as. rapid as the rise.

In Trinity county, on the road from the Tower House to Weaverville, Lowden's bridge and two smaller ones have been carried away by freshets; and in Trinity Valley, one small bridge has been taken off in the same way, while several others have been so damaged as to be rendered useless until they can be repaired.

The road between Shasta and Yreka is well nigh impassable, and no mails from north of Shasta were received at the Post Office in this city during last week.

Samuel Langton, wno arrived at San Juan (Nevada county,) on Tuesday last, informed the Press that the recent rains have melted nearly all the snows on the mountains.

At Nevada the rain fell in torrents on Friday. The Democrat of Saturday says :

We are in the midst of another unusually heavy rain storm, which has continued without interruption for the last twenty-four hours, and as we go to press (at four P. M.,) there is no appearance of the storm abating. The great fall of rain has caused a sudden rise in the mountain streams, and an overflow of the Sacramento is anticipated.

The Transcript of the same date says:

"The greatest fall of rain we have known for some years fell on Friday night. The water actually [?] fell in torrents. Yesterday was emphatically a day the wettest among the wet. Deer Creek is higher than it was any time last winter. . . .

GOT THE START OF HIM.--The sudden rise of the river will bluff off the contractor to build a bulkhead at Rabel's Tannery. Rightmire has given bond to complete the work within a given time, but the river now promises to give him no chance to work during the Winter. The rise, too, is unprecedented for this season of the year, though our highest water in 1853--when the city was flooded--we believe was Christmas day. First of January calls were made in boats. The bank and levee at Rabel's are just as they stood last year, through all the very high water of the season, and therefore fully as able to withstand a flood. The only danger of injury to the levee is met when the river is at about half stage, and the Sacramento considerably lower. The American under such circumstances runs with a strong current and cuts away its banks wherever a sharp bend occurs. But when the Sacramento rises, as it has this season, before the American, the danger of undermining the bank so as to drop the levee into the water ceases, and the water must overtop it before it can commit any ravages inside. The high stage of the American yesterday shows that we may look for a full tide here, particularly as it rained tremendously yesterday afternoon and until we went to press. From the appearance of our streets last night, it is safe to estimate that the high grade to-day is in the majority.


The Storm -. . . .

San Francisco, Dec. 8th,

lt has been raining here all day, with high wind. . . .

p. 5


RISE IN THE RIVER.--During the past week the water in the Sacramento river has stood, at the foot of N street, according to the city guage, at from eleven to twelve feet above low water mark. At about noon on Saturday, a gradual rise commenced, which continued through the day. During the night and early yesterday morning the advance was more rapid, and at dusk last evening the water stood at seventeen feet eight inches above low water mark. The rise within thirty hours was about six feet. This hight is unprecedented at this season of the year. The highest point attained last year--later in the season--was twenty-one feet nine inches, or four feet one inch above the figures of last evening. The Sacramento and the American rivers have mutually contributed to this result. During the past week the upper Sacramento has been so high that the banks at Colusa have overflowed. Within the past few days there have been heavy rains in the mountains, which through the melting of the snows caused the American to rise suddenly about midnight on Saturday night. At about that time it rose so high as to flow over the bank at Mrs. McKeon's ranch, opposite Seventh street, into Sutter slough. By daylight the slough was filled with water, up to within four feet of last year's high water. A considerable portion of the river bank, in addition to that which was destroyed last year below Mrs. KcKeons house, was washed away in the night, inclnding several large sycamore trees. Yesterday afternoon the low section of road between Lisle's bridge and Hubbard's Garden, was several feet under water. The levee below R street, at a late hour yesterday afternoon, appeared to suffer little or none from the sadden rise. An active eddy is still formed by the old bark Ninus, but it appears to be leas destructive than last year. This point may, however, require attention from the proper authorities if the river continues to rise. The melting of immense quantities of snow had swollen the Feather, the Yubas and the Bear rivers on Friday and Saturday, according to accounts from that region of the State. The Bear river bridge at Johnson's ranch was swept away on Friday night, and the Marysville stage from Lincoln was compelled to return to the last named locality with Saturday morning's passengers. We are informed that during the afternoon of yesterday several of the residents of the vicinity of Rabel's tannery were engaged in repairing and strengthening the levee at that point. . . .

Rain.-- After several days of threatening weather, we were visited yesterday afternoon by a heavy shower. The rain commenced about noon and continued until nine o'clock. At that hour, the clouds in the southwest gave indications of breaking up, and the moon made its appearance. At that hour there had fallen during the day as we learn from Dr. Logan, 1.550 inches. This, added to the amount which had previously fallen, since the first of the month, makes the amount for December 1.630. The amount which fell in November was 2.170. Total rain of the season, 3.800.
[flooding matters go on for about 45 days, plus follow-up articles for years to come]
--Mike Barkley, 167 N. Sheridan Ave., Manteca, CA 95336 (H) 209/823-4817
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