Castle Valley Comments
August 1, 2013
by Ron Drake
Aug 01, 2013 | 627 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This picture, taken by Frank Mendonca of Castleton, shows a tranquil Castle Creek the morning after a major flood swelled the floodwaters over its banks.  A 25-foot long, 12-inch in diameter log got wedged above the creek by the flood and water proceeded to raise three feet above it.
This picture, taken by Frank Mendonca of Castleton, shows a tranquil Castle Creek the morning after a major flood swelled the floodwaters over its banks. A 25-foot long, 12-inch in diameter log got wedged above the creek by the flood and water proceeded to raise three feet above it.
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A thunderstorm that rolled through the valley Sunday evening and early Monday morning left an appreciable amount of rain in its wake. Placer Creek was filled to beyond capacity in the Upper 80 area of the valley and left the road impassable in a couple of places. Castle Valley Road Manager Greg Halliday said the road that connects the Upper 80 section was washed out at both the lower and upper sections where the creek crosses the road. The upper crossing required 14 yards of material to fill in the channel left by the flood.

The water in Placer Creek jumped the channel near Holyoak Lane and as a result, some of the roads in the lower side of Castle Valley Drive at the upper end of the valley also required minor repair work to clear mud that accumulated on the road.

Some of the roads farther down the valley had some erosion damage, and Meadow Lane also had mud to be cleared. An irrigation ditch at the lower end was completely filled with silt and volleyball-size cobble rocks and had to be cleared by those who use the ditch to irrigate their fields.

I registered a little over 0.80 inches of rain during the night as did others at the lower end of the valley, while the upper end residents received 0.60. But there must have been an impressive amount of water in the La Sal Mountains to flood Placer Creek and raise Castle Creek significantly during the storm.

Frank Mendonca of Castleton reported that he received 1.19 inches of rain during the storm, which generated the biggest Castle Creek flood in 14 years. Castle Creek was over eight feet deep in places and the flood brought down a 25-foot by 12-inch diameter log and wedged it five feet above the normal level of the creek in his yard. He said that after a dry June, which only produced 0.01 inches of rain, 2.72 inches of rain have fallen in July up in Castleton.

Traffic on state Route 128 was halted during the night while crews from the Utah Department of Transportation cleared mud and rocks from the road from about mile-marker 12 east to the Red Cliff Lodge and around the Onion Creek and Hittle Bottom area farther to the east. The road crew was out most of the night clearing the road of debris.

* * *

It was 20 years ago that this column reported that the Grand County Council, in its meeting the previous week, formally accepted Castle Valley Drive into the county’s Class B road system. “The county road department began spreading gravel the last two weeks in preparation for chip sealing later in the summer,” the column reported. It went on to acknowledge Don Tuft, the former road supervisor, for his work in implementing the flood control master plan and directing the placement of culverts along Castle Valley Drive.

Times-Independent publisher Sam Taylor used to say that the middle of summer was just about as dead ­– news-wise – as the middle of winter around the county. People tend to park their bikes and jeeps during the heat of the summer in favor of cooler activities elsewhere. Hikers and climbers also seem to wait for a little chill in the air to resume their activities, although the Grand County Search and Rescue team is still called out occasionally during the summer to find lost or dehydrated people. And local folks just seem to hunker down somewhere cool and wait for a reprieve from the heat and for school to start.

This week, just as it was 30 years ago this week, I am left with little to report. Thirty years ago, news editor Bill Davis declared: “We need a lot of copy this week, write a long column.” I managed to dig up some news about Ruth Johnson and her daughters Debbie and Kris traveling to Wellsville for a family reunion. Also, there was Donna Bowthorpe, who was in Sacramento visiting her son and daughter-in-law and grandson who was leaving for Guam. And there was a report about Jerry and JoAnna Ehlers, who were living in Hurricane at the time, and were in the valley for a visit. Other than that, I had nothing. Well, except for a news story with the headline: “Prairie Dog killed in Road-Side Tragedy.” This year, even the prairie dogs have sense enough to stay in out of the heat!

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