Pam Knapp


Written Memory


Pam Knapp’s Story

It had been a sunny day and the recently constructed; two story Four Presidents Motel rooms were full with approximately 60 guests. It started to cloud over and rain around 5:30pm. The living quarters for the motel were in the building, with the kitchen along the back to hill behind the property. I was standing in the kitchen with my children, 5 and 7, preparing dinner when I heard a roar and the entire kitchen caved in on us. From the hill behind coming down I grabbed the children, ran out into the rain. It was so hard I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I felt my way along the doors of the motel rooms, knocked and asked the guests in the room if I could leave the kids there while I run across the creek bridge to our service station and gift shop to tell my then husband (Jim) that the kitchen caved in. I then got back across the bridge to the motel and children as the water rose. Jim came to check on all of us at the motel then crossed the foot bridge to check on things at the station and was only gone a few minutes, when he returned the foot bridge was gone and the car bridge which he crossed, the water was rising.

At the Gift Shop, Cleve and Marilyn Wilson (partners) came over the foot bridge just before it disappeared to check on us. As they came in the front door, the water rushed in and we all ran up the steps of the living quarters to the bedrooms above. The water in the motel came to almost four feet high.

Jim, Cleve, and other workers from the gas station immediately had the guests go up side stairs to the second story and into the living quarter’s second floor bedrooms from an upstairs storage room.

Then we watched campers, trailers, and cars start coming down the creek, some bumping into the building and support posts for the motel. We heard cries for help from cars and people who were found deceased later. Propane bottles floated by and some exploded when they hit other buildings.

Then we heard an enormous crack and the entire motel collapsed into the motel crawl space. The hill behind was sliding down, caving in the back of the living quarters, and kept that building from collapsing.

Some of the guests panicked and wanted to leave. Jim had a hard time keeping them in the motel and to tell them there was no place to go. There were no back exits up the hill.

One woman was hurt badly with a serious cut on her leg. A guest was a doctor and tried to help as best as he could. The National Guard arrived around 1:00AM. They strung a cable to the upper level and made a temporary bridge. They got her out around 2:00AM and transported her to the hospital. Later they learned her leg was amputated.



“Pam Knapp,” Flood of 1972, accessed August 17, 2022,