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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

March Marks 80th Anniversary Of Warren County Under Water

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 22 July 2004
Source:
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland:Heritage Press, 1979) page 29
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The month of March marks the eightieth anniversary of the Flood of 1913. The Miami Valley was deluged with rain unprecedented in modern history, leaving the County of Warren with the greatest natural disaster in recent times. The hardest hit was the city of Dayton. With Dayton completely swamped with water, because of the broken levees, the call for help rang out. Lebanon, a city hardly recognized by name, came to its rescue. The city of Dayton depended on Lebanon for telephone, telegraph and mail service.
The Dayton, Lebanon, and Cincinnati Railroad was the only railroad service to reach Dayton from Lebanon. The Cincinnati, Lebanon, and Northern Railroad was the only exit from Cincinnati to Lebanon, thus allowing a connection from Dayton to Cincinnati through Lebanon. The railroad was used by the National Guard to aid and assist the flood victims. Lebanon was set up as the mail center. Working twenty-four hours a day with no time for rest, the mail personnel painstakingly performed a duty that merited many credits. It was said that Lebanon probably sent out as much as 10,000 loaves of bread. The women of the vicinity baked much of this.
The Waynesville postmaster sent a mail wagon to Lebanon each day, which consisted of mail from Waynesville, Lytle, Harveysburg and Corwin of this county; Spring Valley, and Bellbrook of Greene County; and Centerville of Montgomery County. The towns of Morrow, South Lebanon, Foster and Oregonia each sent mail to Lebanon daily and Franklin was supplied at Lebanon for three days.
South Lebanon was assessed to be the hardest hit of the towns of the County. There were just a few homes on the foothills on the north side of the town that escaped the ravages of the Little Miami. Some of the houses were carried into the swift current and parts of them were found between South Lebanon and Cincinnati. Many of the one- story houses were completely covered with water, the occupants being rescued by boat.
One family, the Silas Hill family, consisting of an aged mother and an invalid brother, was forced to the attic. With the waters approaching rapidly, Mr. Hill took a rail of a bed and knocked a hole through the tin roof of the house, through which he pulled his mother and brother. Thinking he placed them in safety upon the extreme top of the roof, was an oversight. Being engulfed by the waters again, he secured a ladder, which was swimming nearby. With this he made a bridge to the top of a tree, which grew in front of the house. And over it they crawled and there, in the branches, they remained for seven hours before they were rescued.
Morrow was placed second among the County's casualties. The property on Railroad Street was completely wiped out. This being the principal business street, a total collapse of the town was evident. Property in East Morrow was also a distressful situation. The water in the post office stood at about seven feet. The first sight of "laundered money" was seen by many of the residents at the local bank. Senator John Holden had just arrived from Columbus to find as pretty a little cottage as any could wish, practically ruined, for the water had stood in it to the depth of five feet.
An old log house, which stood near the bridge at Morrow, is said to be responsible for the destruction of several bridges down the river. It was so well constructed that the mighty current of the Little Miami designated it to become a battering ram.
The greatest financial loss of the County was at Kings Mills. George C. King, who was in Chicago when the flood struck, estimated the loss to the King Powder Co. and the Peters Cartridge Co. at $150,000. Talk of rebuilding was finally concluded when it was decided that their financial loss would be too great if they relocated. The only major damage was done to the two companies, since the village of Kings Mills set high atop a hill.
The town of Foster's east side was completely wiped off the map, the double bridge being completely washed away.
Next to the east came the two-story store building of Ben Rohling in which he carried a $12,000 inventory stock. It was said that the store remained intact until it struck the bridge at Loveland, about four miles down the river. There it went to pieces with a crash. Opposite Rohling's store was a three-story brick building belonging to Frank Maag. After the water struck it, not a brick was to be found. East of Rohling's was a three story white brick hotel. A floating barn knocked out the east end and the two lower stories were heavily damaged.
The Pennsylvania station was a complete wreck. The telegraph operator conducted his business from a little table in a corner of the women's waiting room, having deserted the other parts of the building. To the east of the railroad stood the Lutheran Church. It had filled with water, which ran through the broken windows until the pressure took out the entire west wall. The organ and pews were completely swept away.
Seven deaths were reported at Franklin. The Franklin Coated Paper mill, American Writing Paper mill, Franklin Wheel Works, and Brown-Carson-Schieble Manufacturing Co sustained great losses.
The west side, or the Mackinaw district, suffered most; practically all the houses were under water. Eleven houses were swept away by the ravaging current of the Great Miami.
The Miami Valley Chautauqua suffered heavily. All the buildings were swept away, except the auditorium.
At Oregonia, the store of John Sherwood suffered great damage, along with the residences along the railway. The immediate damage was cared for and assistance from Lebanon was not needed.
At Fort Ancient the bridge was swept away by the rushing current of the Little Miami. There was some water damage to the property paralleling the river. The water rose to a height of three and one-half feet higher than ever before.
A total of six bridges were washed away in the County. Their locations were at Fort Ancient, Mill Grove, Stubbstown, Kings Mills, Fosters and Loveland.
Estimates at the time were in the range of $150,000 for the roads and bridges and $150,000 for the approaches to the bridges and pilings, a total of $300,000. Roads in the flood areas were ruined. At Fosters the water had washed holes in the road up to four feet deep.
One day after the flood a railroad car came from Cincinnati to Lebanon. Ten blue coats with Winchesters guarded it. The merchandise contained $300,000 in cash consigned from the First National Bank of Cincinnati to John H. Patterson at Dayton. Patterson confided that the residents of Dayton need not wait on the State of Ohio for their needs, but the money shall be distributed to the needy and Ohio could recompense him.


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