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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide for Reeves County, Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas


Mac McKinnon


Friday, January 23, 1998


By Mac McKinnon

Sanderson area holds many exotic sights

Last week, I wrote about the beauty of the Sanderson area
some 120 miles or so south-southeast of Pecos. As I
mentioned, there is something I found there that amazed me.

As you drive into Sanderson from just about any direction,
have you noticed the dams across the draws between hills and
mountains? Has that made you wonder about why there are dams
in the middle of the desert?

I asked that question one day during a visit to a friend of
mine, Albert Gilbreath, owner, editor & publisher for the
past 50 years of the Sanderson Times.

Gilbreath has been a long time friend and is well known as
"Mr. Sanderson" for his love and promotion of Sanderson. If
you want to know any thing about Sanderson or Terrell
County, ask him and more than likely he can tell you
everything you want to know.

Such was the case when I asked him about the dams. That was
because of the flood of 1965, he responded. As a weather
fanatic and storm follower, I wasn't aware of that flood but
it turns out it occurred during a time my Air Force wing was
in Guam bombing Vietnam so that's the reason I missed out on
this particular occurrence.

That flood took 26 lives and caused devastation that is
still evident in Sanderson. Who could imagine a flood of
that magnitude in the desert? I certainly couldn't.

Gilbreath loaded me into his pickup and we took a drive
around Sanderson as he described what had happened. Rain had
fallen throughout the Sanderson Canyon area the day and
night before. The Sanderson Canyon area stretches far to the
west and north from Sanderson, almost all the way to Alpine
on the west and Fort Stockton on the north.

In some areas as much as nine inches had fallen. Much of
that rainfall had gone unreported and was not totally
predicted as most of that area is sparsely inhabited.

In a very unlikely occurrence and one that probably won't
happen again for who knows how long, the waters from the
surrounding areas converged on Sanderson about 7 a.m. the
morning of June 12, 1965, catching many people in bed. The
flood waters ran along the railroad, wiping out many
buildings in that path, uprooting the railroad and highway.

It swept away a motel and its inhabitants. The body of a
baby in the motel was found several days later in Eagle
Pass, some 130 or so miles away.

Of the 26 who died, 16 were children. Two of the bodies were
never found. A report on the flood says "Many of the flood
victims were swept away by the rushing waters as they tried
vainly to reach safety. Four children were washed out of a
tree, unable to hold on against the raging waters. Three
person were washed off the bridge on Sanderson Canyon at
Fifth Street as they attempted to cross the bridge in their

"Flood waters cut a swath through the cemetery, uncovering
graves and washing bodies and headstones miles downstream."

Gilbreath was the justice of the peace and coroner at the
time and it's an experience he will never forget. A survey
showed 54 homes were destroyed and 169 were damaged. Several
businesses were destroyed or damaged extensively along with
transportation facilities (railroad and highway). Damage was
said to exceed $l.58 million.

Foundations of buildings destroyed by the flood are still
there so it is evident where the flood waters in excess of
seven foot deep were.
That's the reason for the 10 dams around Sanderson, to make
sure this tragedy doesn't happen again.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mac McKinnon is the Editor and Publisher of
the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears each Friday. He
can be e-mailed at:

Our View

Freedom of religion is precious privilege

What would happen if all the churches in Pecos and Reeves
County were forced to close their doors?

Some people might say they'd go to another town for church
as some do already. But what if you weren't allowed to do

That was the situation in Cuba as it has been in other
countries around the world under communism and other forms
of repressive government. However, recently Cuba's iron
fisted ruler Fidel Castro has eased up on his oppression and
allowed churches to reopen.

This week, Pope John Paul II has visted Cuba to give new
life to the religious movement. The Pope has been very
instrumental over the years in getting religion restored to
various countries where it had been outlawed. In the
process, he has been an instrument of peace and freedom.

Since the church doors have reopened, churches in Cuba have
been full as the people in that country have realized what
they have been missing.

There are times when we don't appreciate the freedoms we
have in this country and one of those very basic freedoms is
freedom of religion. Seeing the Pope in Cuba and
understanding what the people there have been through
hopefully will make people realize the importance of this
freedom and, most importantly, the need for God in our lives.

Hope to see you in church Sunday.

Your View

Coverage of stock show appreciated

Dear Editor:
The extensive coverage you provided for the 1998
Reeves-Loving County Stock Show is much appreciated. Your
staff was present at the weigh-in on Thursday and for each
event through Saturday.

We had 103 area young people validate animals for the show,
and 80 of those youth had an animal in the sale on Saturday
night. This stock show is the time where many of these young
people can see their year's hard work on their animal
projects pay off in different ways.

I know their families, along with the Livestock Committee,
appreciate your staff being present for the events and the
ENTERPRISE'S support of the sale.

KIUN radio also provided excellent ceverage of our events,
as usual.

They provide live broadcasts each year from the show.

Our community is fortunate to have media so interested in
the good things our youth are involved in and I want to take
this oportunity to sincerely thank both the PECOS ENTERPRISE
and KIUN radio for continuing to support this long-time
annual event.

Rickey Exum
1998 Show Superintendent
Reeves-Loving Livestock Committee
(915) 445-3128

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Pecos Enterprise
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise
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