The Flood of 1921
Before the levee construction, Central Pueblo was prone to flooding. The worst of many floods came in early June 1921 when rain along the Front Range caused flooding in excess of 24 feet in some areas. The flood affected around 300 square miles of mostly homes and businesses. Around 700 buildings were completely washed away along a considerable amount of railroad property - the Union Depot was located just a few blocks from the Arkansas' bank.
The actual death toll of the flood is often difficult to track down. Some estimates put the number as high as 250 while others have estimated as low as 78; equally concerning was the missing persons list which was over 500 people long. Perhaps more importantly was the effect that the flood had on the future of Pueblo. Following the flood, the town government was inundated with debts which weren't paid back until decades later. Some of the money borrowed after the flood went towards building a system to protect Pueblo from possible future flooding.
This map is a hand drawn approximation of the areas that were damaged by the Flood in 1921. Of course, the damaged areas were closest to the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek, the two bodies of water that run through Pueblo.