My Memorial Day Memory – 1981

Memorial Day is a time for reflection and to honor those Military Person’s that gave the ultimate sacrifice for this wonderful nation.

But 40 years ago Memorial Day was marked by devastation to parts of Austin, like nothing some of us had ever lived through. The story below tells my personal experience that day.

During the early morning hours parts of Austin received 11 inches of rain in the span of 3 hours. I have no doubt that one of the highest elevations around, Jester Mountain received that much rain or close to it. We were building what is now known as Jester Estates on top of the mountain.

The Building Of Jester Blvd.

We had just finished getting the entire length of the boulevard built from bottom to top, the base was laid and tested, the curbs were all in, all we needed to do was put the asphalt down when the Memorial Day Flood of 1981 hit Austin.

During the course of that weather event the torrents of water that came down, coupled with the extreme steep grades, we saw 3500 tons of limestone flex-base disappear from that hill. To give you an idea of how much that is, it took 150 large 18 wheeler loads to replace it.

In addition we also lost close to 1600 linear feet of concrete curb that became undermined and literally fell down into the canyon below.

The limestone flex-base was piled 4 feet high across FM 2222 highway and extended all the way into Bull Creek.

I drove to that jobsite the next morning and the thought of sitting down and crying crossed my mind. I had been in the construction business for almost a decade by that time, but I still wouldn’t turn 30 for another year. I wasn’t sure my shoulders were big enough to carry the weight of that loss. But I made up my mind to go to get busy and make it all work. Within a month or so we had it all put back and we were ready to pave it.

If the rain had come a week or two later the asphalt would have been in place and damage would have been minimal.

These are photos 40 years later. They show the steepness that is Jester Blvd. The first 4 were shot going up and then 3 going back down.

This is an amazing photograph looking off of Jester Mountain down across Lake Austin and the City beyond with a beautiful golden sky hanging over it all.

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