Remembering Colorado’s Largest Landslide to Ever Happen
Do you remember what you were doing Sunday, May 25, 2014? It was a historic and tragic day in Mesa County.
It's been called the West Salt Creek Landslide, sometimes referred to as the Grand Mesa Landslide and it happened about 30 miles east of Grand Junction near Collbran.
What Caused the Landslide?
Unseasonably heavy rain melted snowpack on May 23 and May 24 saturating the ground and causing instability. A small landslide was recorded just after 7:00 on the morning of the 25th, and some minor slope movement was evident throughout the day. Just before 6:00 p.m., a large chunk of the West Salt Creek valley headwall collapsed, triggering a huge rock avalanche.
The initial collapse traveled nearly 3 miles down the valley of West Salt Creek. Nearly 600 acres were buried under debris, with a maximum depth reaching 123 feet. The landslide moved at an incredible speed of around 45 mph up to a maximum of 75 to 140 mph. The landslide actually generated an earthquake that registered 2.8.
Three Local Men Go Missing
Tragically, three lives were lost that fateful day on the Grand Mesa. Wes Hawkins, Clancy Nichols, and Danny Nichols had headed into the area to investigate an irrigation ditch that had been affected by a small early morning landslide. The three men were reported missing that day and a search was launched, but, sadly, their bodies were never found.