Portal Flood - 2014

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It’s Full, But Are Those Inches Or Feet? (Jeff Gee)

The Forest Service is calling it the 500-Year Flood. Others are comparing it to Katrina, Johnstown Pennsylvania, and Noah. Whatever - we had water where no one living here today remembers water! New creeks popped up everywhere. On September 17, twostorms fromBaja created a deluge the likes of which we have never seen. Fortunately, as far as I know, only the creek-side cottages of Cave Creek Ranch had serious indoor flooding. There are reports that some of the straw bales in Morgan & Johns’s new house were wet. This page will begin to tell the story in pictures, stories and even song (if someone sends me a song). But, as they say, you had to be here to believe it!


At about 6:30 am on Thursday (September 18), two Border Patrol agents, a representative from the Sherriff’s office and Walter Schoepfle transported Gloria from her house to mine. The creek was up against the very edge of her porch, but no water entered the house. The Sheriff snapped this photo and sent it off to NBC news. By the time it was aired, I had rescued not just Gloria but two women, water up to their knees, and the house heading down stream. We are still looking for the second woman, who may have been relocatedunder the Witness Protection Program.

I will not be appearing on the Today show until the story has blown up to the point that the women were drowning, I had to pump water out of their lungs, and that I used a lasso to restrain the house and drag it back up stream!


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Gloria Childress Being Rescued From Her Home Where Water Was Up To Her Knees (OK, It Was Near Her Porch)

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Rain During The Flood

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Used To Be A Road Here (Rene &Tony Donaldson)


Huge Drifts Of Trees Against The Bridge Abutments. Forest Service Gets Points For Great Construction.

#7 F

Exactly How Many Poles Went Down?

#2 F

Surfboard? Section Of Canyon Road (Ray Mendez)


How About A Yard Sale. You Can Own A Piece Of The Canyon Road

(Tony Donaldson)

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Could Be An Olympic Diving Platform (Rene &Tony Donaldson)

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Duh! (Jeff Gee)

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But Where’s Cody’s Swim Suit (Jeff Gee)


Water System Closed? HAH! (Rene) & TonyDonaldson


Cave Creek Crossing On Foothills Rd (Rick & Vicki Beno)


Cave Creek Ranch Aquatic Sports Center


New Channel - One Of Many (Dinah Davidson)


Propane Tank Stops For A Rest (Dinah Davidson)


Cave Creek, 200' Across, Flowing Down Creek Side Of Loop Road Opposite Cave Creek Ranch (Dinah Davidson)


Bridge To Nowhere(Dinah Davidson)


Pepper’s New Swimming Hole (Dinah Davidson)


Bear Dropped Her Lip Balm In The Mud

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Overflow from Horseshoe Creek on Sulphur Canyon Road and Mangus Dome Trail(Jonathan Patt)

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Sulphur Canyon Road With Water From Horseshoe Creek Entirely Covering The Road From Willow Tank To State Line Road (Jonathan Patt)

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Before Idlewild Campground -Troll Bite Out Of Road (Harold Farmer)

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South Fork Access Road (Harold Farmer)

Before carpark 2

A Country Lane - Between Cabins & Carpark, S. Fork (Harold Farmer)

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Hiking Group Looking For First Creek Crossing In South Fork

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Standing just outside the South Fork pay station, looking back down what used to be the road in and is now the new route of the creek. Photo by Jonathan.

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Portal Bridge - Not A Good Time For A Toll Booth (Jeff Gee)

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Foothills Road - First Creek Crossing - Now Three Mountains of Boulders

(Dori Brooks)


Grader On Foothills Road - Should Be Finished By Lunchtime (Ray Brooks)

Before carpark 5

Approaching South Fork Carpark—The Road Decided To Become The Creek (Harold Farmer)


Out of Gas?

The Flood, According To Bob Rodrigues

I could not have imagined our flood scenario if I had not seen it. Water had receded, probably about 5 ft, and I took a walk up the creek from Foothills Road yesterday (19 Sept.). The original channel had very little flow and was mostly dry higher up. I reached a point up channel where the creek had jumped the bank and changed course moving south of the existing or original channel. In Fig. 1, I am standing in the original channel shooting upstream at the breech. I think that the huge volume of flood water quickly wore away the old bank and that the land below was a bit lower resulting in the new creek course to the south. The old creek channel resembles an oxbow.

Fig. 2 was taken above the point at which the creek breached the old channel. At the peak of flooding a huge volume of water, perhaps a foot or two deep, was flowing over land both to the left and right of the breech. The new channel widened below this point (Figs. 3 and 4). The flooding resulted in significant bank erosion on the north bank of the creek on my property (Fig. 5). The three sycamores in Fig. 5 had been attached to land at or very near the creek bank. The telephone line along Foothills road is visible in the photo. Figure 6 was taken from Foothills Road on the (more or less) north side of the creek. All of the rock and debris on the far side was under water and not visible 2 days earlier. Water rose to the top of the bank in the bird-feeder area but did not quite flow to the picnic table (Fig. 7).

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Fig. 1

Figure 1

Fig. 2

Figure 2

Fig. 3

Figure 3

Fig. 4

Figure 4

Fig. 6

Figure 5

Fig. 7

Figure 6

Fig. 8

Figure 7

067 CC crossing Foothills Rd

The Newly Forged Cave Creek Towards Portal(Dori & Ray Brooks)

068 CC crossing Foothills Rd

Driving South On Foothills Towards Cave Creek; Mud Was Knee Deep

(Dori & Ray Brooks)


Owls Butte Trail River - 4 ft Deep (Alicia Davidson)

DMD front flooded

This Says It All (Alicia Davidson)

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Near Cave Creek Ranch (Dinah Davidson)


Despite The Flood, The Canyon Still Looks Spectacular

(Deborah Galloway)



Cave Creek Flooding – 1912

(Courtesy Of William Gillespie, Forest Archeologist)

The flooding caused by heavy rains in September 2014 was not a unique event for Cave Creek. In the Coronado NF Supervisor’s Office there are a few photos of Cave Creek in flood stage taken in front of the old Chiricahua NF Headquarters, also known as the Portal Ranger Station, in March 1912, just a month after Arizona attained statehood. At that time there were no bridges in Cave Creek and the road must have been minimal.

By coincidence, in 1912 when Congress passed the Agriculture Appropriations Act, it for the first time provided funds for construction of roads in National Forests. Arizona Forests received a total of some $24,645.77. The Chiricahua NF received money specifically to build two roads – the Rucker-Tex Canyon Road and the road up Cave Creek from Portal to Reed’s Ranch, the present SW Research Station. The amount allocated for each of these roads was $400! So, this was probably the first time the Forest received funding to work on a road damaged by flooding. For a bonus, I’ll include a June 1912 photo of the alfalfa field that Forest personnel maintained in the open area between the Ranger Station and the CCC Camp.

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At First Road Crossing Above Headquarters, Sunday March 10, 1912

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“Flood In Cave Creek Near Forest Headquarters, Sunday, March 10, 1912

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Flood in Cave Creek. Near Forest Headquarters, Sunday March 10, 1912

Howard Topoff 2011