OHIO VALLEY — Imagine waking up tomorrow and the Ohio River being nearly 50 feet higher than it is right now.
A little more than 80 years ago that was the case along the Ohio River.
As of this writing, the Ohio River level at the Racine Locks and Dam was at 16 feet deep, meaning the level in Pomeroy was approximately 19 feet.
In late January 1937, the river was more than 50 feet deeper than that in spots throughout the region.
The great flood of 1937 saw the highest recorded river crest in Gallipolis at 69.60 feet, narrowly beating the 1913 flood which saw a crest of 67.90 feet.
In Pomeroy and Point Pleasant, the 1937 flood was the second highest crests recorded. In Pomeroy it was 67.8 feet, one foot lower than the 1913 flood, while in Point Pleasant it was 62.70 feet, .10 feet lower than the 1913 flood.
Local historian Jordan Pickens told the Sentinel of the Frank Titus residence on Lincoln Hill which was used by the Ohio State Highway Patrol and radio operators for communication. This was the only communication in or out, relaying information about weather conditions and when help was coming as telegraph and phone lines were down and there was no rail transportation. In addition to Ohio State Highway Patrol, a network of professional radio operators and ham radio operators that assisted with getting the message out.
The resilience of the people is what Pickens said stood out most to him about the flooding in 1937. The flood caused businesses to bankrupt, and took homes and possessions from people who already had very little in the great depression, but they battled back and rebuilt.
The widespread flooding along the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Illinois, prompted steps to be taken to help prevent future flooding. Reservoirs were constructed and dams were ultimately built along the river.
Additional photos from 1937, along with a photo project undertaken by John Scott’s daughter and granddaughter, Mary Wise and Jennifer Harrison, on the 75th anniversary of the flood can be found on the Meigs County Historical Society Facebook page or on display at the museum in Pomeroy through March.
Dr. R.R. Boice and Mary Ewing Buck (Bob Buck’s mother) sitting in rear of boat, while her brother Henry Ewing (Benny Ewing’s father) stands in a photo which was taken above what is now Mick’s Barbershop on Main Street during the January 1937 flood.
This photo from Court Street in Pomeroy shows the area that is now People’s Bank, Clark’s Jewelry Store and the former Daily Sentinel/Farmer’s Bank building.
Individuals are seen standing on the balcony of the Downing House, North Second Avenue in Middleport during the 1937 flood.
The view looking north on Second Street from the roof of the Meigs County Courthouse during the flood in 1937.
The Midwest Steel Building (located next to where Powell’s Foodfair is now) as taken from middle of Ohio River in flood stage.
A cartoon from the Pomeroy Daily Tribune in reference to the 1937 flood.
Residents make use of the second floor balconies on North Second Avenue in Middleport (currently the Locker 219 building).
Looking north toward Middleport Masonic Temple (Riverbend Arts Council) at North Second Avenue and Walnut Street in Middleport.
Point Pleasant during the 1937 flood. The brick building at left center is now the Point Pleasant River Museum. This picture was taken from the Shadle Bridge, with the Silver Bridge seen in the background.
This photo taken from the New York Central Railroad bridge of Point Pleasant shows the area between Main Street and Sixth Street.
Second Street in Pomeroy is shown from the area that is now the Farmers Bank Corporate Office.
The water came up in front of the former Racine High School/Southern Junior High.
The large white house which sits at the bottom of Spring Avenue can be seen in the flood waters which covered a large portion of the house.
The only way down the hill on Spring Avenue toward Main Street was by boat.
The Frank Titus residence on Lincoln Hill was used for communication.
This photo was taken on Union Avenue by the “Wisecup” house. In the back is Dr. Harold Brown (father of Dentist), Otis Parker (with cap on left) and Carl Spangler (right).
As the flood waters receded Goesslers and Farmers Bank (Clarks and Daily Sentinel) can begin to be seen again.