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    Belmont County Flash Flood of July 17, 1818

         Southern Belmont County was hit by heavy rains which lasted approximately four hours on  July 17, 1818.  McMahon's Creek and other nearby streams rapidly rose out of their banks, destroying all crops on the adjacent low ground.  In addition, several houses were also washed away.  One entire family was killed in the flood waters with four bodies being found.

     

    July and August Floods of 1831

         July 4 and 5, 1831 saw heavy rains in southwestern Ohio.  At Batavia in Clermont County, flood waters surrounded houses, and people had to be carried out.  A great quantity of cut grain was washed away, as were fences.  Along the Hocking River, damage was also severe.  More heavy rains during the last week of July caused Dusenberry's Run east of Lancaster in Fairfield County to flood.  The flood waters swept away the mail stage on July 26, and the horses drowned, but the mail, driver and passengers escaped.  Heavy rains hit the area again on the 27th and 28th of July, 1831.  In the lower areas, acres of hay were destroyed and a breech was also made in the Miami Canal eight miles from Cincinnati, Hamilton County.  One person near Chillicothe, Ross County, lost 100 acres of corn to flood waters.

         Heavy rains were frequent in Ohio during the summer of 1831 not only in July but also during the first part of August.  Flooding occurred in many counties including Stark, Wayne and Holmes.  Large amounts of wheat and hay floated away on the flood waters of late July and early August, while flooding ruined entire hay crops and much grain over the southern section of the state during that same period.  The Ohio River rose 10 feet higher than had previously been known.  Mills and dams were also either damaged or destroyed, and bridges were wrecked.

     

    Ohio Floods of February, 1832

         February of 1832 was a wet month.  Prior to the 10th of that month, there was a thaw in the weather with almost constant and sometimes heavy rains for a number of days.  As a result, creeks, rivers and streams of all kinds rose to and above flood stage.  The majority of bridges on the Cuyahoga River between the Portage County line and Cuyahoga Falls in Summit County were washed out.  In fact, there were few bridges left along the Cuyahoga River in all of Cuyahoga County.  Numerous mills were swept away as well, one of which was a five story building.  When this mill went, nearly 2000 bushels of grain were lost.  On the Black River at Elyria in Lorain County, another mill and its millstones were swept away, resulting in about a $12,000 loss there alone.

         In Stark County, mills and dams on the Nimishillen Creek suffered greatly while all mill dams on Newman's Creek were also destroyed.  The Tuscarawas River was in flood, as well, resulting in considerable damage to the canal.  Also approximately 20,000 board feet of lumber which was to be used for a new bridge at Massillon, Stark County, was carried downstream by the flood waters.

         Over in Trumbull County, a number of bridges were destroyed, including the one over the Mahoning River at Warren.  In Franklin County, a stage trying to ford Alum Creek  was swept into the raging waters with the loss of two horses and the mail.  In Hamilton County, a section of the banks of the Miami Canal caved in near Cincinnati, and there were other breaches of the canal elsewhere.

         At Steubenville in Jefferson County, the Ohio River was in high flood by February 11 of 1832, as it then was close to 5 feet higher than any previously known flood.  Many people living near the river had only the clothes on their backs.  Water Street was just that, as it was under eight feet of water.  Houses were lifted off their foundations by the flood waters, and the river was full of lumber, hay stacks, grain, and various buildings which were all floating along on the water.

         Meanwhile, down at Cincinnati, the Ohio River hit 40 feet above the low water mark by late afternoon of the 11th, and all buildings within 200 yards of the river were flooded.  By morning of the 14th, the eastern end of what is now Pete Rose Way in Cincinnati was under water.  On Broadway, water stood 20 inches deep in the barrooms of two hotels as the river swelled to a mile in width.

         The crest of the flood at Cincinnati did not come until the 18th of the month when it hit 64 feet 3 inches.  There was great loss from all the flooding in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well as in Ohio.  Wellsburg, West Virginia was covered with water, and the people had to live temporarily in the upper stories of their homes.  Warrenton, West Virginia was demolished by this flood, while Marietta in Washington County, Ohio was badly flooded with water up to the eaves of a number of houses.

     

    Early June Flood of 1843

         Very heavy rains fell over sections of Ohio and Pennsylvania on June 4, 1843.  This caused a rapid rise of water in many streams, resulting in flash flooding.  The Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal suffered serious damage as flood waters at Campbellsport, Portage County, breached the canal and washed away a section of the towpath.  A warehouse there and a dye house for a woolen factory were both destroyed, and one man was drowned.  Sheep were swept into the Mahoning River and drowned.

         At Shalersville, also in Portage County, one mill was demolished and another badly damaged.  Another mill and a bridge were destroyed at Poland in Trumbull County.  Summit County suffered severe flooding, as well.  Bridges there were carried away, mills were damaged, and one factory on the banks of Brandywine Creek was totally swept away. 

         A bridge and its embankment on Walworth Run in Cuyahoga County were taken out, as was another bridge and two dams.  A factory there was badly damaged.  Two bridges over Tinker?s Creek were also washed out, and part of Pittsburgh Street in Cleveland was swept into the canal along with part of a tannery.  

         Over in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, the heavy rains caused severe flash flooding which resulted in heavy losses.  Cattle, sheep and grain were washed away as were bridges, dams and mills. 

      February Flood of 1884  

         As January, 1884 came to an end, milder temperatures set in which rapidly reduced the snow cover in Ohio and sent a number of streams up to the top of their banks or out of their banks by the end of the first week in February.  In addition to the melting snow cover, heavy rains added to the rising waters.  By 2:00 a.m. on February 7, the Ohio River at Cincinnati, Ohio had reached 61 feet 1 inch.  Steady rain was still falling.  The gas works there was flooded, streets were in darkness and 12,000 families were homeless.  The relief committee appropriated $10,000 for immediate aid. 

         Two oil tanks burst during the evening of the 6th, sending oil floating out upon the flood waters.  Most of the street car lines had been abandoned by the 7th, and the main part of Cincinnati was virtually cut off from communication with the suburbs.  Appeals went out to Cleveland, Toledo and Sandusky for boats.

         In Indiana, all business at Lawrenceburg was halted, and the citizens of that city were fleeing the rising flood waters.  There was no communication by railroad, telephone or telegraph with Lawrenceburg.  Up river at Pittsburg, the Ohio reached its highest stage since 1852 on the 6th.  According to the Holmes County Farmer, "Miles of property on the south side of the city [of Pittsburg] and in Allegheny City are submerged.  All the mills and factories on both rivers have suspended.  Hundreds of families have vacated their homes.  Cellars and first floors in the lower business section are under water.  Railway travel is greatly retarded and on some roads suspended."  Every street from Pennsylvania Avenue to Sharpsburg (a five mile stretch) was under between 1 and 10 feet of water.  Damage by the 7th was put at over $1,000,000.

         Back in Ohio, the Scioto River at Chillicothe (Ross County) had washed away bridges and a frame house.  One person was killed.  At Louisville, Kentucky, the Ohio had reached within three feet of the previous year's mark and was still rising.  The towns of Jeffersonville and New Albany were almost totally under water, while the village of Shepherdsville on Salt River had been washed away.

         February 8, 1884 found the Ohio River at Pittsburg falling after submerging approximately 6,000 businesses and 30,000 homes.  About 45,000 people there were out of work.  In addition, there were, "heavy damages and loss to lumber" at the headwaters of the Allegheny River.

         Although the Ohio at Pittsburg was falling on the 8th, the Muskingum and Tuscarawas rivers at Coshocton, Coshocton County, Ohio were still on the rise.  The west end of Coshocton was under water, and "the country for miles around" was covered by flood waters.  Trains on the Panhandle Line had ceased running, and there were breaks in the track at Ironton (Lawrence County) and Mingo (Jefferson County).  In addition more than a mile of track was reported washed out elsewhere.  In some places the banks of the Ohio Canal were badly broken.

         At Wheeling, West Virginia, the fairgrounds were said to be "a total wreck".  Three houses had come floating down to Wheeling from up river on the 7th.  On that date, "houses, barns, bridges, straw and haystacks" were seen floating past Wheeling all day.  Losses at Wheeling were more than $1,000,000.  There were 15,000 people homeless at Wheeling with 10,000 having no provision.

         Wellsville, Columbiana County, Ohio suffered heavily from this flood.  Rain fell heavily there all day on the 6th and that night and combined with the melting snow to swell the rivers and streams to enormous size.  At the time, the Ohio river reached the highest stage ever seen there.  A large planning mill floated by intact and filled with lumber.  It had supposedly come from Industry, Pennsylvania.

         During the night of the 6th and on the 7th, people were rescued in boats at Wellsville.  The gas went off, and water was running 5-10 feet deep through town from one end to the other.  In some places, the water rose above the second stories of houses, but in one section of the town the water was 15-20 feet deep.  House roofs could barely be seen.

         At Smith's Ferry, Pennsylvania, the water stood two feet above the high water mark of 1832, and that town was completely submerged.  Refineries were under water and hundreds of barrels of oil were swept away.  The Columbiana County bridge over the Little Beaver Creek was floating on the water.

         At Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio the Ohio River stood hit 49 feet - two feet higher than in 1882.  The entire lower portion of the city was under water, and the Jefferson Iron Works had 11,000 kegs of nails submerged.  The potteries at East Liverpool in Columbiana County, Ohio were flooded, and all communication with that city was cut off except one wire to Cleveland.

         By February 8, one-fourth of Zanesville, Muskingum County, Ohio was flooded.  A railroad embankment had been holding back the water there, but when the water came rushing over that at 2:00 a.m. on the 8th, half of the second ward was flooded in five minutes.  People had to scramble to the second floor of their homes so they could be rescued by boat.

         Back at Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, rain began falling steadily at 4:00 a.m. of the 10th, and the Ohio River there was still rising.  It passed the 1832 flood crest and rose to 65 feet 5.25 inches by the 11th.  Meanwhile, at wheeling, West Virginia, 50 houses became jammed against each pother at the south end of that city on the 10th.      

         Four tons of mail "the first mail in four days " arrived at Wheeling, West Virginia on the 10th.  Bed clothes there were in short supply, as all blankets in the city had been distributed to those in need.  Wagons full of supplies had been coming in all day on the 10th from places as far as 20 miles away on the Ohio side of the river.  In the stretch from Wellsburg to Moundsville, West Virginia an estimated 20,000 people needed to be fed and clothed.

         Back on the State of Ohio side of the Ohio River, an engineer on the Scioto valley Railway waded out of Portsmouth, Scioto County, and then walked 24 miles to Piketon, Pike County, where he sent a telegraph message stating that the water at Portsmouth was five feet higher than in the flood of the previous year.  One steamship was lying in the water on a sidewalk.  People were entering and exiting a hotel at Portsmouth through the second story windows, and three houses in the city were on fire.

         Rain fell heavily along the Ohio River counties during the afternoon and evening of the 10th.  At Gallipolis (Gallia County) the river was rising at the rate of .75 inch per hour with water 7 feet higher than in 1883.  In Ripley (Brown County) flood waters had swept some houses away, and much tobacco hanging in barns in lower sections had sustained great damage.  Evening of the 10th found the Ohio River at Ripley five inches higher than it was 24 hours before.

         Rain was still falling heavily at Cincinnati on the morning of the 11th.  Boating at Lawrenceburg, Indiana was becoming dangerous due to the swift current, and more houses were being taken from their foundations.  Up river a little way at New Richmond in Clermont County, Ohio, water was in every building, and the town had no communication with outside areas except by skiff.  One-third of the people in that town depended upon outside help, hundreds of houses had filled with water, and 35 homes had been floated off their foundations.  Meanwhile, across the river in Kentucky, the village of Rural had been washed off the map with only 2 out of the 36 houses there left.

         Farther up river at Pomeroy (Meigs County, Ohio) there were 5,000 people "camped on the hills in terrible want for food and shelter."  A total of 150 homes had floated away.  Boats were landing at the steps of the court house, and practically every businessman in the city was bankrupt due to the flood.  Of course, the coal mines at Syracuse in Meigs County were flooded, and at Middleport, also in Meigs County,  a house with a woman sitting on the gable end of it went floating by during the morning of the 11th.

         Back at Cincinnati, 12:30 a.m. of the 12th found the Ohio River rising at the rate of an inch an hour.  By 4:00 a.m., the river there was up to 67 feet 7 inches.  On Steamboat Square, the second stories of buildings were flooded, and all trains with the exception of the Cincinnati Northern had to stay outside the city.  Across the river,  nearly half of Newport, Kentucky was under water, and 15,000 people there were without homes.

         At Pomeroy, Ohio on the 13th, the situation had grown worse.  Water was 11 feet deep on Second Street, and only the chimneys of factories were visible.  The same day, all of Portsmouth, Ohio was under flood waters with three-fourths of the city under water house-top deep.  Half the people there lost all they had, and 120 homes were carried into the river.  More than 500 other houses had been destroyed.  No mail had come there fro five days.  Strong winds and heavy rains hit Cincinnati during the night of the 12th-13th.  A short way down river, Lawrenceburg, Indiana was running out of coal and coal oil.  A total of 50 homes there had been swept away, and 400 pianos and organs were floating in the water.  That city was said to be nearly ?forsaken?, and it was completely cut off from the outside world. 

         Meanwhile, three-fourths of Aurora, Indiana was under water, while Jeffersonville, Indiana was entirely submerged.   Point Pleasant, West Virginia was totally submerged under 6 feet of water.  Half of Buffalo, West Virginia was under water, and the Kanawha River was three to five miles wide well before its junction with the Ohio.  All along the Ohio River from Wheeling, West Virginia to Cairo, Illinois "scores of villages" had either been totally destroyed or nearly so.

         Rain fell continuously on the 13th and during that night until 2:00 a.m. of the 14th.  At Newport, Kentucky, 20 houses were lost to the river during that night, and more were on the verge of going into it.  The climax of the flood at Cincinnati came at 1:00 p.m. of the 14th when the Ohio reached a stage of 71 feet 1 inch.

         On the 16th, the U.S. relief boat, Stockdale, docked at Marietta, Ohio with $50,000 of supplies on board.  Sixty homes at Marietta had been washed away.  On the other side of the river, every railroad bridge in Wood County, West Virginia had been swept away by flood waters, and Parkersburg had lost 80 houses to the flood waters.  The damages there as of the 16th had been put at $1,000,000.       

     

                                                           

                

                                         Copyright 1-2006   Ronald Hahn.President Ohio Weather Library All Rights Reserved.