North fork Salmon Creek flood destroys Conconully on May 27, 1894.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/16/2006
  • Essay 7609
On May 27, 1894, a flash flood on the north fork of Salmon Creek inundates Conconully, the seat of Okanogan County. One woman is killed and 42 buildings are destroyed for a loss estimated at $95,000.

Conconully was a mining town producing silver, lead, and copper, and some gold, zinc, and molybdenum. It was still recovering from a fire that had swept through the town on August 30, 1892, destroying 34 buildings, and from the collapse of the silver market in the Panic of 1893.

A thunderstorm dumped rain into the upper reaches of Salmon Creek on Saturday, May 26. Debris clogged the creek, forcing water into new paths and residents used dynamite to break loose the jams. Rising water cut new channels that snaked through Conconully.

At about 8:45 a.m., a cry arose for everyone to head for the hills. A debris flow, 30 feet high, rushed down the canyon, crashed through the town, and trapped several people. Amelia Keith had returned to her daughter's home to retrieve her spectacles. She was found dead two days later under 10 feet of debris. Druggist A. W. Tullock was somewhat luckier. He was bedridden in the back of his business when the flood pushed his building for a block and wedged it into a clump of willows. He survived the flood, but died a week later of his illness.

Local towns provided relief in the form of food and clothing.

Sources: Bruce A. Wilson, Late Frontier: A History of Okanogan County, Washington, 1800-1941 (Okanogan: Okanogan County Historical Society, 1990), 103-104.

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