Mapleton residents recall devastating mudslide 55 years later

Many residents still have vivid memories of the devastation are still surprised no one was killed.

Posted: Jan 30, 2020 6:41 PM

MAPLETON, Ore -- Fifty-five years after a mudslide wreaked havoc in Mapleton, many residents still have vivid memories of the devastation are still surprised no one was killed.

It was on Jan. 28, 1965, when residents say heavy rains caused a mudslide on nearby Neely Mountain that caused tons of mud, trees, and debris to come crashing down on a portion of Highway 126.

Linda Miller was 22 at the time and was driving back from Eugene and said she couldn't believe what had happened when she got back to town.

"When we crossed the bridge, you could just see mass destruction," Miller said.

A display case at the Mapleton post office has photos of the destruction. They show trees covering the highway with cars that were pushed around and piled up.

Back then, the post office was across from what is now Randy's Riverview Market. Photos show the building damaged and covered in mud. Miller said a woman that was working at the post office was swept away but was later found alive in a ditch. No one was seriously injured.

"In them days they would just leave their kids in their cars and run into the store or something," Miller said. "But fortunately, there was nobody in any cars, but those cars are what blocked those logs from going into the stores."

Connie Walton said her dad used to own a store on the highway. She said she remembers helping him clean up the mess for days after the slide.

"The only way we could clean out the store was to cut holes in the floor of the store and keep pushing mud, pushing mud until it went away," Walton said.

But the mudslide, didn't stop the mail from being delivered. Post office officials used a trailer as a post office until their building was repaired in the fall.

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