Explore Palm Springs: 1938 Flood

Deluge left city without a way in or out



Floods washed out the Palm Springs bridge over Tahquitz wash on Palm Canyon Drive.

Photo Courtesy of Palm Springs Historical Society

 

A temporary end to the drought is possible with rain forecasted over the next few days.

But nothing on the scale of what came 76 years ago.

On March 2, 1938, a desert storm hit with all its might pouring inches upon inches of water into the canyons above the village of Palm Springs and onto the desert floor.

The washes flooded and asphalt and concrete were broken loose and carried by the swift water, cutting its way from Palm Springs to Indio.

The newly incorporated city of Palm Springs sprang into action calling in Bill Leonesio, the first fire chief and the newly organized Palm Springs Fire Department. The rain pummeled the city for two days, and when it was over Palm Springs was completely isolated without any way in or out of the city.

For three days, residents and visitors were left to pull their cars out of the flood channels and wave to their friends and neighbors, who had been caught on the other side of the bridge when it collapsed.

The concrete from the destroyed bridge tumbled down the Tahquitz wash and was swept all of the way down to Indio by the raging river.

With many of the streets destroyed by the torrent, horses became the most reliable form of transportation. Horses and riders were able to access places where cars were unable to maneuver.

There is a multitude of ways to learn more about Palm Springs, which turned 75 in 2013. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.

The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a weekly story whose time and place corresponds with today.

The Palm Springs Historical is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive. For more information, visit www.pshistoricalsociety.org

Like what you're reading? Then "Like" us on Facebook and "follow" us on Twitter.

Add your comment:
Desert Guide

Related Articles

Belinda Carlisle, The Go-Go's Still Got the Beat

Belinda Carlisle splits her time between the U.S. and France, loves yoga, and oh, she just also happens to sing six weeks a year with her pop/rock band, The Go-Go’s.

Rancho Mirage May Become Home to President Obama

The Palm Springs area may once again become the home of a U.S. president with reports that the Obamas are close to buying a house in the Thunderbird Heights community of Rancho Mirage.

Desert AIDS Project Helps Inspire Cameron Neilson's Song

Palm Springs is not only a second home for singer Cameron Neilson, it's also a source of inspiration for his hit, 'All Equal on the Dance Floor'.

Heirloom Tomatoes Guide Escena Lounge & Grill's Salad Choice

Since being diagnosed with high blood pressure and cholesterol, Escena Lounge & Grill Chef Oscar Ayala has found the healthy benefits of heirloom tomatoes in his salad creations.

'The Voice' Puts Tessanne Chin's Life into Hyper Drive

Tessanne Chin's life has gone to hyper drive since her dramatic win of Season 5 of NBC’s singing competition show, The Voice.

Promotions + Contests

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couple’s getaway
90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Each month, a first place winner will be selected to win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!And, each month, three additional runners up will be selected to win a wonderful Palm Springs area Dining certificate!
2013/14 Best of the Best

2013/14 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Pets on Parade 2014 Photo Contest

Pets on Parade 2014 Photo Contest

Enter your “Cutest Pet” photo in the Pets on Parade 2014 Photo Contest. Online users will be able to like the Cutest Pet photos from six (6) categories.