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Santa delivers despite December 1964 flood

Seven-year-old Trudy Meadows of Yreka was living in rural Siskiyou County during the December 1964 flood, one of the worst in California’s recorded history. Meadows’ father, a miner, had recently moved the family from Utah to a rough-hewn, historic bunkhouse in the tiny community of Forks of Salmon. 

In mid-December, temperatures plummeted and snow fell on the frozen ground. As Meadow’s family drove to Yreka to bring her sister home from high school, heavy rainfall melted the snow. The tributary creeks of the Salmon River watershed rose quickly. Roads flooded and closed behind them, so Meadow’s family took the long way home through Happy Camp. When a log on the road blocked their way, the family climbed over it while their father drove carefully around it.

Meadows watched anxiously as one tire hung over the riverbank of the raging Salmon River below. Back safely in Forks of Salmon, they found their bunkhouse survived the flood but the town was cut off by mudslides. Gov. Pat Brown declared Siskiyou County a disaster area and helicopters dropped supplies to the community for six weeks. Meadows was happy to discover that Santa delivered Christmas presents despite the flood of 1964. 

Sources: "Flood!" State of California: Department of Water Resources Bulletin 161 (1965); Meadows, Trudy. Telephone interview. 13 Nov. 2013.

As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.