Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying“If you don’t like the weather in New England just wait a few minutes.” This quote could easily be changed from New England to Nevada and be just as accurate. Weather in Nevada is known to be extreme. We’ve written a couple of posts about the frigid temperatures winter can bring (see Operation Haylift and Snow, Snow, and More Snow), but we haven’t explored some of the other weather phenomena that occur in the desert.
Mazuma, Nevada, founded in 1907, was located in the Seven Troughs Mining District, now Pershing County. Built in what appeared to be a pristine location at the mouth of Seven Troughs Canyon, Mazuma quickly grew into a bustling mining camp complete with a hotel, saloons, and its own post office. But on July 18, 1912, residents of the boom town were in for one of the most quickly destructive weather patterns that occurs in the desert: the cloud burst.
At about 5:00 pm on July 18th, residents of the area reported seeing a massive thunderhead forming above Seven Troughs Canyon. Nearly without warning, the clouds burst, sending a wall of water rushing down the canyon and into the town. As reported in the Reno Evening Gazette, “…the wave that swept down from the deluged mountain crest was twenty feet in height and … swept everything before it, tossing giant boulders aside, or bearing them onward in its course.” The town was devastated. Residents of the town of Seven Troughs, located just above Mazuma, attempted to warn the town before the wall hit, but were unable to make it to the town in time.
Eight Mazuma residents were killed immediately while nine others were left with life threatening injuries. The Reno Evening Gazette estimated at least $200,000 in property damage just from the flood. Mazuma never recovered.
For more information on the Mazuma flood see:
“Mazuma Wiped out by Cloudburst and Death List is Large” in Reno Evening Gazette, July 19, 1912.
“More than Score of Lives Lost in Flood” in Nevada State Journal, July 19, 1912.
“Mazuma Wiped Out” in Nevada Magazine, http://nevadamagazine.com/home/archives/mazuma-wiped-out/