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The Gulch after the storm, 1932

Updated: May 13, 2021

I picked up a couple of interesting postcards by Hughes Studio recently, showing the mess on Rossland Avenue in Trail following a huge rain storm. A note on the first one indicates they were taken in 1932.

In this photo we are looking southeast. The still-standing Colombo Lodge is third from the right and Kootenay Breweries is at far right. The building second from the right still stands; I presume it was also part of the brewery. Below is roughly the same view today, from Google Street View.

A close up reveals an ad for Church’s brand shoes at Lauriente’s Clothes, as well as part of the rooftop sign on Camille Lauriente’s grocery store.

The second card shows the street a little further west.

UPDATE: I stumbled across the newspaper story that described the events depicted above. According to the Trail Daily Times of July 4, 1932, the storm of the previous day lasted 20 minutes. At least .88 of an inch of rain (22 mm) accumulated in that time. Afterward, pockets of hail were “so deep in the hollows on the hillsides that it looked like snow.”

Tons of mud that will require two days or more to remove were deposited on [Rossland] avenue, cutting it off completely as far as traffic was concerned … Flung out of a big flume near the Trail plant of the Kootenay Breweries, the torrent of mud and water swept across the street to smash down the fence in front of P. Christiante’s and Mr. Unger’s homes. Sweeping into the houses, the muck lay inches deep on the floors. Low basements were flooded and at G. Decembrini’s 15 chickens were drowned.

Mud covered the railway tracks along Rossland Avenue and the lower end was impassable by car. Water spilled into the Trail Meat Market through rear windows. A tobacco shop in the Kootenay Hotel was damaged.

While the Gulch took the worst of it, downtown was also affected. A gutter on Spokane Street overflowed, and mud and water poured through an alley behind city hall and flooded the basement of the fire hall. Businesses with low basements, including those of the Princess Cafe and City Bakery, found them filled with debris.

Additional damage occurred on Binns Street, Dockerill Street, and Nelson Avenue, where another 20 chickens drowned.

Updated on May 13, 2021 to add details from the newspaper story.

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