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As It Was: Stage Coach Outruns Flooding Wall of Destruction

In 1906, stage driver Frank Reid was moving in a downpour toward Lakeview, Ore.  Just as he headed downhill into a narrow canyon between steep hills on each side, the Moss Reservoir broke, releasing a torrent of water.

Hearing a roar, Reid looked behind him, and saw a wall of heaving, foaming water carrying trees and boulders and racing toward him.  Reid decided he had no choice but to keep ahead of the raging water and whipped his horses into a run.  Fortunately, he had no passengers and his load was light. 

Reid barely kept ahead of the water and its debris as he negotiated curves in the road.  He made good time until he came to a swollen stream pouring over the road.  The horses hesitated, then seemed to realize their plight and plunged in.  Reid held his breath.  A misstep here meant certain death. 

Full of nervous energy, the horses waded across and up the bank, running until they finally hit high ground.  Reid said later he’d rather look down the muzzle of the most dangerous robber’s gun and read the brand on the bullet than repeat his race against the flood. 

Source: "Stage Driver's Perilous Ride." Lake County Examiner, 5 Apr. 1906 [Lakeview Oregon] , p. 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers, https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn97071141/1906-04-05/ed-1/seq1/#date1=01%2F01%2F1846&city=&date2=12%2F31%2F2017&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&lccn=sn97071141&index=0&words=DRIVER+DRIV. Accessed 21 Mar. 2018.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.