Column published in the Smith County Pioneer – August 13, 2015

HOME ON THE RANGE
By El Dean Holthus

About every 20-25 years there is a major flood at or near the head waters of West Beaver Creek in Northwestern Smith County; on August 5, 2015 history repeated itself. During a 12 hour period on August 4-5, 8-9” of rain fell a few miles north of the Home on the Range site and with 5” of rain at the Site the West Beaver Creek Valley flowed like a river for several hours. The flood waters flowed straight north to south completely overrunning the channel as we knew it.

First the good news; the restored Cabin and furnishings suffered no damage, a small amount of water came under the door due to excessive run off from the roof. The drainage system around the north wall worked perfectly; the limestone barrier at the top of the grade and the buffalo grass planted on the “construction scar area” prevented erosion resulting in NO silt on the north side of the Cabin.

The Pete and Ellen Rust Memorial Nature Walk was virtually destroyed by severe erosion, the washing out of two of the foot bridges and major damage to the third. We have huge piles of drift wood that must be buried or burned; moving them and clearing the creek channel will require heavy equipment that we will not be able to use until the ground dries or freezes.

THE NATURE WALK IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

We appreciate the offers to help us clean up but at this time the Foundation and Advisory Board are evaluating the damage and developing a plan of clean up and re-building. Notification will be provided when we are ready to start.

After recovery from the initial shock and disappointment of seeing all the hours of hard working volunteers destroyed I believe this is a blessing in disguise. There have been discussions of building permanent shelters and additional data stations on the Site some of those would have been in the area now positively identified as a 25 year flood plain. We now know where NOT to build permanent structures.

This event will not change any of plans in regard to the dedication of the highway naming signs or the Home on the Range Documentary. Plans and work on both are continuing.

The Cabin remains open daylight to dark; visitation is not affected.

Thanks to all who have expressed their concerns and for the offers to help.
Click image to enlarge.