Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Jan. 2, 1934: Car caught in mud from flooding in La Canada-Montrose. The car is sitting on the pavement of Montrose Avenue. This photo was published in the Jan. 3, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Jan. 1, 1934: Mud, rocks and damaged cars on Montrose Avenue in Montrose after New Year's flooding. This photo was published in the Jan. 2, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 2, 1934: Panorama made from three negatives in the Los Angeles Times Archive at UCLA showing mud-covered Honolulu Avenue in Montrose. This panorama was published in the Jan. 3, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Jan. 1, 1934: Cars marooned outside Bohemian Gardens at 3890 Mission Road, East Los Angeles. This photo was published in the Jan. 2, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 1. 1934: A milk truck is almost completely submerged on Whittier Boulevard under a Union Pacific railroad bridge. This photo was published in the Jan. 2, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 1, 1926: A crowd gathers at the washed-out Mesa Street bridge where four people drowned when their auto plunged into the Rubio Wash. The wash is west of San Gabriel Boulevard in the Monterey Park area. This photograph was published in the Jan. 2, 1926, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 1, 1934: Five people drowned when this car and Rush Avenue bridge was swept into the Alhambra Wash, near the present-day Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. This photo was published in the Jan. 2, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 4, 1934: Civil Works Administration men from Pasadena help clear Honolulu Avenue in Montrose following flooding during New Year's Eve storm. This photo was published in the Jan. 5, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 3, 1934: Following the New Year's Eve flooding in Montrose, a kitchen was set up to help survivors. This photo was published in the Jan. 4, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

January 1934: The American Legion Hall in Montrose following the New Year's Eve flood in which a dozen people were reported killed. The building was located at the intersection of Fairway and Rosemont avenues.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Jan. 1, 1934: A house in the La Crescenta-Montose area was swept off its foundation and carried hundreds of feet by New Year's Eve flooding. This photo was published in the Jan. 2, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Jan. 2, 1934: A burro is used to move water and supplies after New Year's Eve flooding in the La Crescenta area. This photo was published in the Jan. 3, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Jan. 3, 1934: Cars parked on the dirt, left, show the depth of debris on roadway being cleared on Foothill Boulevard in Montrose. The boulder on right is 50 feet in circumference. This photo was published in the Jan. 4, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Map published in the Jan. 6, 1934, Los Angeles Times showing the areas of flooding in La Crescenta-Montrose following the New Year's Eve storm.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times/Proquest

Oct. 17, 1934: Cars caught in the flooding on Honolulu Avenue near Rosemont in Montrose. This photo was published in the Oct. 18, 1934 Los Angeles Times. Note: Montrose was hit twice in 1934 by bad flooding, first on Jan. 1 then on Oct. 17.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Fred Coffey / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Oct. 18, 1934: Severely damaged home at Sunset Avenue near Florencita Street in Montrose. This photo was published in the Oct. 18, 1934, Los Angeles Times. Montrose suffered two major floods in 1934, this October event and a more damaging one on Jan. 1, 1934.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Oct. 18, 1934: Workers dig out a car and remains of a home on Glenada Avenue in Montrose following flooding from a storm the night before.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Oct. 18, 1934: A garage on Glenda Avenue in Montose is destroyed by flooding, but car survived. This photo was published in the Oct. 19, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Oct. 18, 1934: Water flows through the Hall-Beckley Wash where it intersects with Glenada Avenue in Montrose. This photo was published in the Oct. 19, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Map published in the Oct. 22, 1934, Los Angeles Times following the Oct. 17, 1934, flooding in the La-Crescenta-Montrose area. Two brush fires in 1933 burned off vegetation on the hills above the communities.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times/Proquest

Dec. 13, 1934: Workmen at Honolulu and Agner streets in Montrose setting up sand bags at a known flood danger point. Montrose suffered major flooding in January and October of 1934. This photo was published in the Dec. 14, 1934, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

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The 1934 floods

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The 1934 floods

In a now-familiar Los Angeles story, late 1933 brush fires cleared the vegetation from the hills above the Montrose-La Crescenta section of Los Angeles County. When heavy rains arrived on New Year’s Eve 1934, the neighborhoods were flooded and lives lost.

The Jan. 9, 1934, Los Angeles Times reported the death toll in Los Angeles County as 44 with about half the dead from the Montrose-La-Crescenta area. Another 15 were still missing, six of whom were from the Montrose-La Crescenta area.

In this Jan. 25, 2009, Los Angeles Times story: Montrose flood roared through the Crescenta Valley as 1934 began, writer Jean Merl reported a higher death toll of at least 45 in the Montrose-La Crescenta area:

It was nearly midnight on Dec. 31, 1933, and 11-year-old Charles Bausback Jr. and his parents were gathered in the small dining area of their Evelyn Street home in Montrose, working on a jigsaw puzzle as they awaited a soggy new year.

Outside, rain had been falling almost nonstop, dropping some 14 inches in two days on the small communities of the Crescenta Valley, tucked below the formidable peaks and steep canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains.

A fresh cloudburst assaulted the valley just after midnight. The house started shaking violently, Bausback, now 86, recalled.

“We got panicky,” he said.

High above their home, in a wide swath of mountains laid bare by wildfires only weeks earlier, a series of check dams, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps to slow runoff, filled and weakened. In Pickens Canyon and other area canyons, the saturated ground started moving; the small dams gave way to mighty flows of boulders, mud, water and fallen trees.

Reaching at least 20 feet in height, the Pickens Canyon flow picked up speed and fury, engulfing much of Montrose. Survivors told tales of a deafening roar, trembling buildings and giant boulders skimming across the mud like beach balls.

The Montrose flood, as the calamity soon came to be called, took at least 45 lives, destroyed about 100 homes and turned the little community into a mud-filled, barren landscape, said local historian Art Cobery, who has become an expert on the catastrophe and its aftermath….

The above photo gallery includes images from the January 1934 flood, but also includes images from October and December 1934 storms.

Another storm hit on Oct. 17-18, 1934, killing six people around Los Angeles County. Another 25 homes in the Montrose-La Crescenta area were destroyed, but as reported in the Oct. 19, 1934, Los Angeles Times, no one in the Montrose area lost their lives.

After the October storm, Los Angeles Times photographers quickly descended upon the Montrose-La Crescenta neighborhoods documenting the damage  that looked exactly like the January 1934 storm images.

The December 1934 storm resulted in minor damage.

The full 2009 story by Jean Merl: Montrose flood roared through the Crescenta Valley as 1934 began.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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2 Comments

  1. January 2, 2014, 9:03 am

    My father was 17 when this flood occurred. It destroyed his parents home. In 1979 his own home was destroyed by a similar storm/flood that roared down the Chocolate Mtns. west of the Salton Sea. Nature wins in the end.

    By: Bruno Marr
  2. September 2, 2014, 4:38 pm

    It's hard to believe we used to have a lot of rain like this on a somewhat regular basis(but maybe not the extreme flooding)here in Southern California. we have been in drought for so long, it is hard to remember what rain looks like!

    By: Alma

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