Section Foreman Spires statement

Q. Where do you reside, Mr. Spires?
A. Gallitzin.

Q. How long have you lived there?
A. For 16 years, and within two miles of that for the last 25 years.

Q. What is your position?
A. I am section foreman of a division on the Penna. Railroad.

Q. I wish you would state now, what from your observation was the character of the rain-fall, as to quantity, commencing on Thursday, and ending with the flood that swept out the South Fork dam.
A. It commenced raining at our place about 3 o'clock on the afternoon of the 30th and continued until about 6 o'clock on the evening of the 31st, and it was the hardest rain-fall I have ever seen in my recollection; that is, continued the longest and hardest. It kept us busy right there on the top of the mountain to keep the track clear and keep drift (a)nd stuff from gathering on the track, and there was track washed out at the east end of the tunnel.

Q. What was the cause of that washout?
A. Just the heavy down-pour of rain.

Q. The surface water from the mountain running down off?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. What track did it wash out?
A. It washed the north siding out for a quarter of a mile on my division No. 3, and on the next division which adjoins mine, No. 4. And it fiilled [sic] out culvert entirely full; something it has never done since I have been on the work, and at the west end, at Gallitzin, there were sewers and drains that were calculated to carry all the water, and they couldn't begin to take it, and it overflowed our tracks.

Q. What, from your observation and knowledge, was the character of the rain-fall on the eastern slope of the mountain?
A. It was very heavy. All the water empties into the Juniata River from the east and west ends of the tunnel; and the Conemaugh river heads right at Cresson. The water that flows from the west end of the tunnel at Gallitzin is the head waters of the Clearfield Creek which empties into the Juniata and then into the Susquehanna.

Q. The rain-fall was very heavy on the eastern side of the mountain from what you heard and saw?
A. I do not know that it was, but I am led to believe it was, from the damage done in the rivers east of us, from the bridges that were swept away that have withstood all the floods for the last thirty years.

Q. During all the time you have been at Gallitzin, did you ever see anything approach what this was?
A. No, sir, the others weremere [sic] showers compared to this. I w as [sic] in it continually from 11 o'clock on the night of the 30th when I was called out until 9 o'clock on the night of the 31st,; was out right along with my men.

Q. How did that rain-fall affect the small streams along the face of the mountain?
A. It made rivers of them. There were no streams there but what are dusty in an ordinary season in the bed of them, and it swelled the smallest streams, you might say, to rivers. I have been talking since to a good many of the older inhabitants there, who in fact, were born and raised there, and they have never seen anything like it in theri [sic] recollection

Q. It was not only a great flood but an extraordinary one?
A. Extraordinary one, yes, sir. I never saw it rain as hard in all my life time, for as lone a time.

Q. Were you down near Cresson when it was raining?
A. No, sir.

Q. You weren't away from Gallitzin?
A. No, sir.

Q. About what time, do you suppose, it rained the ardest, [sic] or was there any difference in the fall of the rain?
A. I couldn't just say. From the time I was calledout [sic] about 11 o'clock until 3 o'clock the next day, it appeared to be a regular down-pour all the time.

Q. There is a run three or four hundred yards west of the west end of the tunnel, isn't there?
A. There is a run about 300 yards from the west of the tunnel, that runs right back of the station.

Q. How did the water affect that?
A. That raised up, and surrounds them, houses entirely, and filled the cellars and above the cellars.

Q. How many feet of water do you suppose there was in that strem [sic]
A. I am under the impression that at that time there was ten feet of water. I didn't measure it.

Q. Did that stram ever get up anything like that before?
A. Never.

Q. How high did it ever get up before?
A. I never seen it over three feet. There is a culvert that leads that water off that has been built for any ordinary flood, and it always has taken the water except when it would get banked up with drift wood, but it always did take it very nicely until this time, and this, it didn't begin to take.

Q. It filled up all the sewers and overflowed the tracks and everything about there?
A. Yes, sir, and then th(a)t stream there doesn't drain over 350 acres of ground altogether.

Q. And yet it got all that accumulation of water?
A. Yes, sir.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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