PUEBLO, Colo. — One hundred years ago this week, the town of Pueblo, Colorado experienced a devastating flood that destroyed much of the downtown area and took many, many lives. Although there is no official death toll, estimates range from several hundred to thousands. The devastation of the flood affected more communities than were accounted for. Minorities and immigrants are misrepresented in the death toll, so the totality of the devastation is challenging to research.
Rocky Mountain PBS
Casualties of the Great Pueblo Flood
An excerpt from "Colorado Experience: The Great Pueblo Flood"
“This city was a melting pot made up of immigrants and working-class people. Many of those who survived the 1921 flood walked away with their lives but not much more. Many lost their homes, their belongings, and their businesses,” said local foundation chair Lucille Corsentino. She also echoed another Pueblo community member, Therese Simony, whose grandfather and father’s family was dramatically affected by the flood.
“We came. We persevered,” Simony said. Corsentino added, “They survived, by the grace of God, and then they rebuilt.”
Today the river has been tamed by a dam and a levee, and the Historical Arkansas River Project is the centerpiece of a development effort that is changing the face of downtown Pueblo.
“People from Pueblo are known for their resiliency and perseverance,” said Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar. “They were then, and they are now.”
Several public events and screenings of an upcoming documentary are available this week:
- Press conference: Wednesday, June 2 at 11am on the historic Riverwalk in downtown Pueblo
- Free, outdoor public screening of “Colorado Experience: The Great Pueblo Flood” on Wednesday, June 2, 7 - 10pm, at the Riverwalk in Pueblo. Discover the resiliency of the Pueblo community through interviews, extraordinary historical footage, and testimonials from survivors in this 1-hour documentary.
- YouTube Live Premiere of “Colorado Experience: The Great Pueblo Flood” on Thursday, June 3 at 7pm. Interact with the interviewees and creative team behind the episode with a live chat during the premiere.
- Watch on Youtube here.
- “Colorado Experience: The Great Flood”airs on Rocky Mountain PBS at 7pm on Thursday, June 3.
- Stream live here.
- El Pueblo History Museum: High Water Marks: Pueblo's Resilience in the Face of Disaster, opens Friday, June 4.
- Pueblo Heritage Museum Exhibit: "The Great Flood: A Panorama of Ruin" emphasizes the damage in the wake of the flood and focuses on the businesses of the downtown areas most impacted. The gallery highlights how the people of Pueblo survived through this event. Organizers are planning a walking tour mirroring the route of "Ladies of the Night" but focusing on what happened to residences and businesses after the flood.
- Pueblo Library:This virtual and in-person exhibit features Pueblo throughout the 1920's. This exhibit focuses on the economic boom occurring as a part of the Roaring '20s and the devastation inflicted by the 1921 flood.
- Pueblo Historical Society Book:MAD RIVER - Commemorating the Great Pueblo Flood of 1921. The book is a comprehensive look at Pueblo in the early 1920s and the chronology, devastation and impact of the flood.
- Rosemount Museum:A Day in the Life ... Pueblo in the early 1920's.
Julie Jackson is an executive producer at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can contact her at email@example.com.
Rocky Mountain PBS
Colorado Experience: The Great Pueblo Flood
In early June of 1921, Pueblo experienced a devastating flood that destroyed much of the downtown area. The very river that formerly brought life and sustenance to the region now left death and destruction in its wake. A century later the river has been tamed by a dam and a levee, and the Historical Arkansas River Project is the centerpiece of a development effort that is changing the face of a city.