1800 floods parkersburg virginia - Mackey's Antiques & Clock Repair

1800s Flood's  Parkersburg WV 

Mackey's Antiques & Clock Repair
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Parkersburg WV 26101

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High Waters Nothing New In Parkersburg


Due to the excessive amount of snow we have had, and the thick ice on our rivers and streams, flooding is a prime possibility this year. Floods are, of course, nothing new to those who live in this area and are taken in stride by most who have resided here any length of time. The earliest flood to obtain a written account occurred in 1813. According to, "Notes of Caleb Emerson," at Campus Martius Museum in Marietta: In mid winter of 1813, Marietta suffered from an Ice Fresh The first half of the winter of 1812- 1813 was severe and snowy.


Good sledding endured for weeks, The regular January thaw began about the 12th. There was a week of sunshine, The snow went off finely. Then came a day and night of pouring rain. The ice broke up and was fearfully crushing and crowding down the currents. Then there was a mild day, then a very sudden change of temperature at night. Nearly the whole surface of the water among the houses at the Point was frozen over. The rising of the waters had begun on Sunday night and not withstanding this icy check, the rising continued until Thursday morning. The people at the Point were in great trouble.


Valley Flooded 66 Times


It would take a book to give a graphic picture of all our floods of record since. from 1813 through 1967, the Ohio and its tributaries have gone on a rampage 66 times in our area. Some floods are recorded further down stream at Cincinnati which, apparently, bothered this section of the Ohio Valley with only high water. Although wandering hunters and trappers told of a major flood in 1763 and 1772, or 1773, there is no written record of them.


The next flood of record after 1813,came on Feb. 12, 1832,cresting at 49.5 feet at Parkersburg. In 1875,a flood that did little damage to Parkersburg, nevertheless wreaked havoc along the Little Kanawha, cresting at 38 feet at The Point, or just two feet above flood stage. One of the few August floods, it was apparently spawned by heavy rain storms near the stream's head waters. It was on Aug. 4, 1875, that the Little Kanawha along with small streams in its watershed became raging torrents overnight. Although rain had fallen almost continuously for 24 hours, the unseasonal flood took residents in the area by surprise. Reaching the then, placid Ohio, logs from rafts were flung like twiddle winks to the Belpre shore by the raging torrent. As the Kanawha roared down its valley it swept away the bridge at the foot of Market St. The bridge, in its wild ride on the muddy current, side-swiped the steamer Jacob Drake, doing but little damage, and eventually broke up in the tossing water leaving only its two stone piers as reminders.


Feb. 9, 1884


According to official records, the highest water mark for the past century came on Feb. 9, 1884, when the Ohio rose to 53.9 feet at Parkersburg, the worst of the three floods in that decade. The winter of 1884 was a severe one. The temperature hung at 10 to 15

degrees below zero until Jan. 31, when it warmed up enough for the snow and ice to begin to melt. Then on Sunday, Feb. 3, rain started to fall. It fell continuously all day Mon day, Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday was born the crippling Flood of 1884 the worst the valley had known to that time. Belpre was particularly hard hit. Terrible though the damage was in Parkersburg, it was absolutely staggering in Belpre where swift currents swept away everything from an area of three five acres.


During the decade of the 1890's, the Ohio Valley was plagued and buffeted by five floods, the worst cresting on March 25, 1898, at 48.2 feet. The Parkersburg News for Friday, March 25, 1898, carried the large headlines, "The Yellow Tentacles of the Devil Fish Called  Flood, under which the extend of the creeping river was described. Steamboats, they wrote, still plied the run - away river, but it was a chancey undertaking. Danger came not so much from the tossing water and drifting debris as from gun fire from both banks. Flood sufferers are attempting to stop the boats on the river," the reporter wrote. Apparently dire need made refugees from the raging rivets desperate. The floods of record, 18 in all, of the 1800's chalked up an impressive record of death and destruction.



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