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1913 Flood



By Diana McMahan

The News Correspondent

Written on Sunday, March 25, 1979

            Today, the Ohio River offers little threat to the homes of most Newport residents, for new construction has been on higher ground.  However, in 1913, the great flood practically covered the houses and store buildings close to the river bank.  This record flood of all time crested at 58.7 feet at Marietta on March 29, 66 years ago. 

            The first eyewitness reports of damage in Newport came to Matamoras via the Matamoras Relief Committee, a large group of citizens who had traveled down river on the Brown Brothers’ boat, the Evelyn, checking on friends and relatives as far as Marietta, and taking food, clothing and necessities to those who had lost everything to the high water. 

            The great harm done to familiar landmarks shocked everyone on the boat, although damage in Newport was not so great as was first reported.  The wide stretch of water from the West Virginia hills to the Ohio hills, with no valley in sight, made all viewers lose their bearings. 

                                                SEEN FROM BOAT

            Newport suffered considerably from the flood.  The Reynolds’ home and the Newport mill are gone, and Will Cook’s store swung around.  Elson Kirkbride’s Meat Market turned over, and the Post Office and store owned by Will Gano is off foundation.” (Matamoras Enterprise, April 3, 1913.)

            Other damage above and below Newport was just as devastating.  “The O.R. Track above Raven Rock is washed out for a mile or two.  A.A. Stewart’s Oil Well (sic) on the Hall farm, across the river from Raven Rock is all upset.  A house on Grape Island is all upset.  Ex-Sheriff Obe Clark’s old house on the bottom land is wrecked.

            “At Bell’s Run, Lock’s blacksmith shop and several other buildings are gone.  A 25,000 barrel tank floated out of its bed, across the river from Eureka and landed on the fill that is built around them.  Several miles of the O.R. track near St. Mary’s is washed out, and the trestle is also out. Alvin Haskins’ two story house and wash house is turned over.

            “At the Dana Run Bridge all the telephone and telegraph wires are down.  The old store house at Newell’s  Run is gone and the new one badly damaged. Barn and warehouse of F. B. Leonard are gone and the store is badly damaged.”

            Those reports that were exaggerated and in error were corrected by Mrs. William Cook of Newport, whose husband had the store seen from the Evelyn as she went past.  Mrs. Cook wrote to the Enterprise, “The mill is still standing and almost ready for business.  William Cook’s store, I am happy to inform you, would have taken 18 feet more water to have touched us. Loss of merchandise and household goods in Newport is comparatively small, for three fourths of Newport population is on high ground.”


            Much news of Newport and the flooded residents arrived in Matamoras in the column of Newport “Personals” published in the Enterprise.  Identity of the columnist is today unknown, but through the short paragraphs one can see how the flood touched the lives of those in a small river town.

            “Mr. George Bacheldor, who was floodbound in New York State, returned home Saturday.

“Mrs. Will Conerty was flood ground in Parker, Pa.

“Harry Karcher has purchased the Hines property and is moving to higher ground.

            “The Meat Market collapsed in the flood; it was the property of Mr. Bernard Reynolds.

            “Mr. Sam Collett’s cottage was wrecked, also a small house belonging to the Bosworth sisters.

            “J.M. Cook’s Blacksmith shop which was on the bank was washed away.

            “Mrs. A.S. Hassinger was flood bound in Columbus, Ohio.

            “The old Strickling house went away in the flood and the old store room swung off the foundation.  Only one occupied house left in the flood, which was the Charles Reynolds’ cottage above the mill.

            ‘The Drum property of Water Street left in the flood, but landed on a farm below town.

            “Mr. Luster Francis’ barn and other buildings left in the flood, but were anchored before going far.  Mr. Wesley Hoff lost his barn during the flood.”