Eureka, Nevada: A Tragic Flood

Eureka, Nevada in the 1800's (image from

Eureka, Nevada in the 1800's (image from


The Scene One of Desolation and Despair,

Many Lives Lost!

Full Particulars of the Terrible Disaster.
Special to the Journal by the Western Union Telegraph Line.

EUREKA, July 24.
One of the most dire calamities by flood which have visited Nevada since its settlement by the whites, took place this afternoon at 3 o’clock. It has been raining with uninterrupted violence since early morning, and about midday a cloud burst upon the lofty range of mountains which borders the cañon, in which this town is situated, to the east, and the water came through in large streams. None but a trifling damage was done, however, and soon the excitement ceased, but scarcely had the people returned to their homes and the scenes of their business, when a deluge of rain set in, such as had seldom been seen in any country.

Each street and gulleyway was, within ten minutes from the beginning, converted into a miniature river, and the eastern portion of the town, which is much lower than any other, and through which is the natural channel for a good sized creek of water, was immediately flooded. The fall for the water being considerable, it tore through with fearful rapidity, but still the inhabitants thought they were safe in their houses and presumed at each successive stage that the flood had reached its highest, and that a subsidence would follow. They reckoned amiss; also with mournful fatality; for suddenly there came thundering down the cañons, from two directions, a perfect ocean, which carried everything floatable before it. So great was its speed and volume that it fairly tore up the dry ______ and mingled the dust of earth with the spray of ______ waters.

Those who had remained in their premises were now hemmed in beyond the possibility of escape, and the scene was one of the most heartrending character. Those living, or who chanced to be on the more raised portions of the town, came heroically forward en masse and rendered all the assistance that human aid could render. Every moment houses were moved from their foundations and carried down the torrent. To quit those which yet remained, for the purpose of hazarding one’s escape, was to commit one’s self to the foaming stream and be carried down among fragments of houses, utensils, timbers, and in fact everything that came in the way of the flood and which went tumbling forward to destruction.

Ropes were procured, and in the hands of brave men, who ventured forth as far as possible, each depending on the other, as they formed in line, extending into the flood, good work was done. Many were rescued by this means, but before the men had time to procure such means, or even to think of it, many were carried down and lost. As the debris floated by, now and then could be seen a human form mixed with the mass. Some were still alive and struggling for assistance, but they were beyond the power of those who looked pityingly on to save. The women and children, thank heaven, were with few exceptions all saved. It was in the act of saving them that men in many cases lost their lives.

Two women are reported drowned. The body of one of them, Mrs. Broy, has just been brought to the Court-house. She recently came from the East, and married Mr. Broy but a few weeks since. They wee both swept away with their house, and were seen to float by, clasped to each other and battling the fearful torrent with the despair of drowning persons. They were separated and he escaped, and is now reported quite out of his mind at the loss of his wife. Another very sad case was that of Roger Robinett, a brilliant young man, a reporter for the Cupel, who was carried down with the printing office and drowned. His people reside in San Francisco. It is difficult to learn the names of the others whose bodies are being brought in every few moments to the Court-house. Among them are the bodies of three Chinamen.

It is also difficult to ascertain the extent of the loss of property. At least thirty houses have been swept away, demolished or otherwise totally destroyed. All that portion of the town devoted to dance houses and other places of public entertainment is gone. The office of the Cupel was, with all its contents, swept away. The flood lasted but half and hour, but did its work well in that time. It has at this hour totally subsided. Had it occurred in the night, instead of at the time it did, the dead must have been numbered by the hundreds. The scene is now one of desolation, despair and bitter mourning. Many person have lost their whole property.

Among the buildings destroyed is the Eureka Hall, one of the largest theater halls in the State. The weather is still threatening, but a careful watch will be kept through the night, least the occurrence be repeated.


EUREKA, July 25 — 10 P.M.
The following are the persons known to be drowned: Mrs. Chas. L. Broy, A.C. Latsom, John Turner, Roger Robinette, Jas. Galvin, J.W. Talbot, Jean Dorney, John Ranfts, W.J. McGeary, Wm. Smith and five Chinamen. The loss of property as far as ascertained foots up over one hundred thousand dollars: Eureka Hall, total wreck $8,000; Eureka Consolidated furnace, damaged $8,000; A.E. Davis, stable and wagons, damaged $7,000; are the heaviest losses.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Jul 26, 1874



In the long account of the Eureka disaster published in the Sentinel of Saturday morning we find the following mentioned among the incidents of the flood:

At one place a cask of liquor was found and broken open by a party of men. They soon became boisterous and when Sheriff Sullivan and Constable Bell appeared and attempted to preserve order, they were set upon by the crowd and badly beaten with stones and pistols. The Sheriff it is thought had one shoulder dislocated in the row. The offenders, however, were arrested and lodged in jail. During the evening several other belligerents, as well as a batch of pilferers, numbering all about fifteen or twenty, were arrested and placed in jail.

We are reliably informed that there was much petty stealing all the way down the cañon. Trunks were bursted open and rifled and other valuables were carried off. It seems strange that any man could be found so mean as to attempt to profit by the terrible misfortunes of the sufferers of so dire a calamity as was that of yesterday. A large number of special officers were promptly detailed, and after this force got on duty a better state of affairs was speedily inaugurated. Officers were kept on duty all night.

Such conduct was very bad, and the participants ought to have been severely punished. Confinement in jail was too much of a luxury for them.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Jul 29, 1874


Eureka Horror — Additional Particulars — Funerals of the Dead — Etc.

EUREKA, July 28.
Sunday was indeed a sorrowful day; one that will not soon be effaced from the memory of those who witnessed the closing scenes of Friday’s awful tragedy. From above, the bright orb of day shone resplended, and seemed to mock the sadness it looked upon. It still seems almost impossible to fully realize the sad results of the terrible catastrophe. The mournful appearance that pervades the place, the long line of ruined and wrecked houses, that mark the part of the destroyer, the sorrowful faces one meets on every side speak in silent voice the tale of desolation.

The funeral obsequies of Roger Robinette, A.C. Latson, Mrs. Chas. Broy, John Ranfts, Jean Dorney, and Jas. Galvin added to the solemnity of the scene. The remains of Roger Robinette were shipped to San Francisco where his bereaved mother resides. To-day Mr. Broy is journeying to Clarksburg, West Virginia, bearing with him all that remains of his darling wife. Little did he imagine that when but six weeks before he led her to the altar that to-day “her bridal dress would be her burial shrowd.”

On Sunday one more body was discovered; that of Henry Heine being found near the residence of Samuel Lewis, on Buel street. The body was found wedged in a mass of debris and was extracted with much difficulty. The body of Wm. McGeary the carpenter who was at work on Colonel O’Reilly’s building, on Buel street, is still missing; searching parties are still endeavoring to find it but have thus far been unsuccessful.

The citizens Committee yesterday made a general canvass of the town for the purpose of receiving contributions in aid of the sufferers of the disaster. Their efforts were attended with good results, about $2,000 being collected, which, with that previously on hand, will amount to over $5,000. A number of others have signified their intention of contributing as soon as they could communicate with their principals in San Francisco and other places. 375 dollars were received by the Eureka relief Committee from Hamilton.

To-morrow evening a number of ladies and gentlemen, embracing the best  musical talent in the place, will give a grand concert at the court house in aid of the sufferers, the full proceeds to be devoted to the alleviation of the distressed.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Jul 29,  1874


More about the Flood.

EUREKA, July 30.
The body of W.J. McGeary one of the victims of the late disaster, was recovered yesterday. It was discovered three miles from town at the mouth of the cañon lying under a door and was in a very decomposed state, having lain there nearly five days. It is believed all those who lost their lives have been recovered, none are known to be missing, but searching parties are still examining every place whee a body could possibly have lodged.

The court house was crowded last night by an audience composed largely of ladies to listen to a lecture from Hon. C.E. DeLong, on Japan, delivered in behalf of the sufferers of the recent flood.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Jul 31, 1874

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2 Responses to “Eureka, Nevada: A Tragic Flood”

  1. What Became of Charles L. Broy « YesterYear Once More Says:

    […] my previous post about the 1874 Eureka, Nevada flood, the article mentioned the death of Mrs. Charles L. Broy. I did a little searching to see what […]

  2. Kathleen Baber Says:

    I have the newspaper report of the flood that killed John Turner, my great uncle and brother of my great grandfather, James Edward Turner in Eureka. I attached it to John Turner’s person page in family search; if it is the same one that your article talks about, it’s awesome to have pictures to go with the story, if not the same flood, I would say that part of Nevada must be prone to torrential downpours and massive floods.

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