Some of these accounts were drawn from newspaper articles from the time period of the event.
At the junction of three rivers—the Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio—Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has suffered several devastating floods. On March 16, 1907, heavy rains and melting snow brought the river stage to 36.6 feet, causing the greatest flood in the city to date. Residents were caught completely unaware due to the rapid rise of the water, but surprisingly few lives were lost—estimates range from 6 to 12. However, damage to property and business was great, with total losses estimated at $5,000,000. Electricity was cut off and hundreds of workers found themselves out of work due to mill and industrial plant closures.
Thousands of curiosity seekers crowded the streets of downtown Pittsburgh to witness the flood damage. Some used whatever they could find to navigate the waters; notice the men in what may be a casket. The photographer of this image probably hauled his equipment onto the top of a horse-drawn wagon, a conclusion supported by the horse's ear in the lower right corner of the panorama.
In January 1910, when the dam on Freeman's Run in Austin, Pennsylvania, cracked and slipped 4 feet on its foundation, the Bayless Pulp & Paper Mill spent $1,000,000 to repair the cracks and reinforce the foundation. However, few of Austin's residents believed the dam to be structurally sound. The Emporium Lumber Company, located about 1/2 mile downstream from the dam, shipped their highest grades of wood from its mills to prevent inventory loss should the dam break again. On September 30, 1911, heavy rains filled the Bayless reservoir and broke the concrete dam. An estimated 400 million gallons of water rushed over Austin and continued through the valley, destroying property as far as eight miles downstream. In Austin, 50 people were killed, and 38 more were reported missing or presumed dead. Only the Emporium Lumber Company Mill and the Bayless Mill remained standing. The Bayless Pulp & Paper Company (the owner of the dam) paid over $2,000,000 in negligence claims. The Emporium Lumber Company Mill, shown here, surrounded by its inventory loss, continued to operate in Austin for two more years, perhaps because of its foresight in keeping its inventory to a minimum.
In March 1913, one of the worst storms on record hit the Midwest. Many states felt the effects of tornadoes, cyclones, and floods, with deaths and injuries in the thousands. The death toll in the Ohio Valley alone was estimated at 7,000.
On the Olentangy River, the city of Delaware, Ohio, earned the high-water record for the 1913 flood, breaking the old record by more than fifteen feet. A wall of water, seven feet deep, swept through the main section of the city, overcoming an estimated 50-75 residents. Scores of people were marooned on roofs and in trees, and the city was virtually cut off from the surrounding area when five bridges washed away. In this panorama, three bridges lie mangled in the river, while workers repair a crossing for pedestrians.
Many small towns in Ohio were nearly submerged under flood waters during the disastrous storms of 1913. In Chillicothe, Ohio, a town south of Columbus on the Scioto River, the flood waters carved out a channel 6 to 10 feet deep on Hickory Street.
The worst damage and the highest number of casualties occurred in a residential section in the eastern part of town. This panorama shows the destruction of houses on Hickory Street, where the worst damage in Chillicothe occurred. Eighteen people were reported dead, with many more missing and thousands left homeless. The business district was also severely flooded and property damage was high.