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Landslide!

March 22, 2019

 

Being in a mountain area, even if we are in the northeast, makes us aware (not wary) of landslides. The most famous one occurred in 1887 and is documented in local papers of the time, as well as later government publications. As a local farmer, John Flynn, and his family huddled inside their home [Squabetty] during a heavy downpour, "the whole mountain reverberated with a terrible crash and roar; the mighty roar of waters increased and giant trees tom from their roots passed by making them believe each moment was their last." Luckily, the house held fast. When the rain subsided and they were able to go outside, they saw trees 15-25 m long and 0.3-1.0 m in diameter protruding from masses of soil and rocks that had been stripped from the mountainside above their home. Large rock blocks weighing from 1 to 500 tons had been hurled about like "baseballs." The family was amazed to discover why their dwelling had been spared: the first rush of debris had created a natural dam just above the house,  which caused the water and slide material to pass on either side of the building. There have been other slides on the mountain evident now by the change in forest type, or old, old photographs.

The most recent slide, which was a fair distance from the house, but significant in size, reminds us of possible hazards living on a mountain. In June of 2017, we had about 9 inches of rain in 20 days. We surmise that during that time, bedrock far above the house, near what we call the ledges, gave way and hurtled down the mountain. It wasn’t until the fall, with the leaves off the trees that the scar from the slide could be seen. We live in a mighty place and must never underestimate the power of nature.