High Water, 1902
FIRES OUT AT THE WOOLEN MILL AND ELECTRIC LIGHT PLANT
FAMILIES ALONG THE RIVER FORCED TO MOVE OUT
CANNING FACTORY FLOODED
Tunkhannock Republican, 7 March 1902
On Friday, Feb. 21, we had a very heavy fall of snow, and on Saturday the following the depth of the snow was about 2 1/2 feet. On Friday, Feb. 28, we again had a very heavy fall of rain — which, in fact, was general over a large section of country north, west and south of this place – and on Saturday following the Tunkhannock Creek and Susquehanna River were the highest since the flood of 1865.
On Friday night the water reached the fires in the boiler room of the woolen mill*, and on Saturday afternoon and evening the water rose so rapidly that families living along the river bank above the depot had barely sufficient time in which to remove from their houses. On Bridge Street, near the railroad crossing, the Wheeler house, the S. H. Jenkins house and the Stephens House – the latter a hotel – were flooded three feet over the first floor. Many callers along the south side of East Tioga Street were flooded, some of them nearly to the first floors of the buildings.
On Saturday afternoon and night there was considerable ice running on the south side of the river, and the river bridge was badly pounded. Saturday morning the ice breaker on the third pier from this side was knocked off, and in the afternoon the heavy iron rods on the same side of that pier were broken, and the end of one of the heavy wood braces which support the bridge from pier to pier was torn from the lower side of the third pier. All Saturday night the ice and flood wood pounded and tore away at the timbers and boards of the bridge on both sides of each of the piers until it seemed that the whole structure must give away, but the bridge was built away back in the fifties when first-class timber was plenty, and it was also well built, otherwise it must surely have gone with this flood. However, it was so badly damaged that both ends were nailed up Sunday to prevent teams from crossing, and we do not believe it is safe for such crossing yet, and if it can be repaired at all so that it will be safe – which is doubtful – it will cost the county many hundred dollars.
The water, at the highest point, almost reached the ties on the railroad bridge at the mouth of the creek. It was over the first floor of the woolen mill. The canning factory on the other side of town, and along Swale brook, was also flooded so that the machinery was under water. On Saturday night the fires at the electric light plant were put out by the water, which rose to the lower part of the dynamos, and the town was in darkness until Monday night.
All trains on the Lehigh Valley were abandoned after the arrival of No. 1 Saturday afternoon, and there was no traffic on this part of the road until near noon Monday when two freight trains went west. There was a washout about one mile east of this place which had to be repaired before trains could go past that point from either way.
On the south side of East Tioga Street many cellars between the Keeler House and the borough limits were flooded. The flats across the Tunkhannock Creek were entirely under water. The road was flooded at the bridge at the borough line on the extreme end of Tioga Street, and also at the south end of the county bridge over Tunkhannock Creek at that point.
Only for the high banks formed by the fills under the railroad tracks all the lower eastern portion of the town would have been flooded. Those who remember the flood of 1865 sate the water was nearly as high this time as then, when there was no railroad, and East Tioga Street was five feet lower than it is today.
The Mehoopany bridge was given a severe test with high water and ice, but it stood the strain, although it was somewhat damaged. As in the case of the Tunkhannock bridge, everyone expected it would go down during Saturday night, but it proved its good qualities by standing the test.
Over in Factoryville the water reached the highest point in the history of the town. On Friday afternoon the mill dam of C. Mathewson – located back of Keystone Academy – gave way, and torrents of ice and water swept down upon the town. It first struck the barn of George Reynolds, which was demolished. The property of the Keystone Lumber Company was the next in line, and the lumber was washed away and machinery damaged. The barns of C. A. Sisk and C. A. Briggs were carried down stream and struck the iron bridge, where they went to pieces. The rear end of the hotel barn was torn to pieces, and several small buildings and considerable blooded poultry were swept away. Friday night the dam of B. S. Gardner & Son also gave way, the ice from which struck the iron bridge of the Lackawanna Company carried it down stream about a quarter of a mile. One corner of their grist mill was also taken away. The cellar of the general store of Charles Gardner was flooded, and considerable damage done to stock. Many other cellars about the town were flooded, and several streets were badly washed out. Factoryville apparently suffered much more from the flood than any other town in the county.
*[was the site of the Gay Murray Store on Bridge Street]