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The July 1912 Flood at Merrill

Wood County Reporter, Wood County WI

Thursday August 1, 1912, Page 1

Submitted by Joan Benner

Surnames: Averson, Cotter, Dacoby, Holt, Kline, Lindauer, Wendt

Merrill, July 25--Yesterday the water in the Wisconsin River at this place was higher than ever before known. The water was 15 feet and 6 inches above low water mark and two feet higher than in October, 1911. Tuesday evening an effort was made to dynamite the dam at the power house, but the structure held, until a large amount of flood trash lodged at the dam and forced the water back, and finally a channel was cut around the power house, leaving that building isolated. The Lindauer & Holt Manufacturing company's plant was somewhat damaged and about 1,000 cords of spruce pulpwood were washed away. The Averson Company, excelsior manufacturers, lost about 1,500 cords of wood and many cedar poles. Dacoby & Company lost 800 cords of excelsior wood. The Hub plant was not injured. The flood circled the Central Leather Company's plant and washed away a large amount of lumber.

On Prairie River the Prairie River Paper Company lost its dam, the Pier Street bridge also being washed away. Many persons were compelled to leave their homes owing to the rush of water and many narrow escapes from drowning were reported. Hon. J. N. Cotter, George Kline, William and Albert Wendt had close calls when trying to dynamite the dam at Merrill.

The Stange park is flooded, as is the basement of the library and courthouse. In the former at least 1,000 volumes of books were ruined. All of the school records, which were stored in the vault of the courthouse except those in the training department, have been lost.

The damage to the streets and sewers is estimated at $10,000 while the other damage is estimated to reach into several hundreds of thousands of dollars, at Merrill alone.

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A letter received from Hon. Neal Brown of Wausau today addressed to L. M. Nash of this city among other things had the following to say on the flood conditions at Wausau:

"The flood losses in this vicinity have been many hundred thousands of dollars. The Wisconsin river dam at Merrill went out; the old prairie river dam which had been abandoned went out; the Brokaw dam went out; the guard-lock dam in Wausau and one smaller dam of the Wausau Street Railroad Company went out; four bridges in Wausau went out in whole or in part; the upper highway bridge being swept clean; the new railroad bridge across the river went out in part; one end of the high bridge was wrecked and two spans of the highway bridge at the south end of the city went out; two dams on the Eau Claire went out and a part of the Brooks & Ross dam at Schofield; the highway bridge in the Village of Schofield was taken completely out; the coffer dam of the Marathon mills was blown out to relieve the pressure of the water; from ten to twenty million feet of logs went down the river from here to Brokaw, Merrill and on the Eau Claire.

It is said to have rained eight inches at Merrill; four inches in one cloud burst. The result was a wall of water came down, taking out one dam after another. At Brokaw they didn't even have time to open all the gates. So we all have a lot of work ahead of us to repair the damage and get under way again. The water in the Eau Claire was two or three feet higher than I have ever seen it before.

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