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The Flood of 1908

edited by Norm Grieger - From the archives of the Wanatah Mirror

The people of Wanatah had their first real experience with a flood last Friday, February 28th ,and it was so forcibly impressed on their minds that it will not be forgotten for many years. The heavy rain that fell all day Thursday and during Thursday night added to the melting snow and ice is what did the work. When people awoke on Friday morning, considerable water was in evidence. No one had dreamed during the night that before the day's end, many citizens would be compelled to move to the upper floors of their houses to keep out of the water.

Everyone thought that it would soon begin to subside, but that was not to be the case. In about two hours more, the water became alarmingly high in and about the Boehlke undertaking establishment and the Roller Mills. Before noon the flood had reached as far east as the Livery Barn and the lower floors of the Grieger building. It was still rising at the rate of three inches per hour. The flood was practically confined to the north side of the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks and east of the Monon Railroad tracks. It is very likely that it would not have occurred if these two companies had culverts of large enough capacity at the waterways passing through their right of ways.

There was practically no water in the business portion of the town south of the Pennsylvania tracks, and the creek was about three feet lower than on the north side. Officials of both Railroad tracks were telegraphed to provide means by which an opening could be made in their tracks to let the water through. Before they could respond, the water reached such a height that it washed out a place on the Monon tracks north of town and another one about sixty feet in width on the Pennsylvania at the dredge ditch east of town. As soon as the washouts occurred, the waters began to subside.

People who resided here for over forty years say that the flood was the worst they have ever experienced. Hog Creek was a mile wide and it seemed as if it would never cease to grow larger.

The snow was still thawing and water was constantly accumulating until a late hour but had almost vanished by morning. The flood caused the most damage to Mr. Boehlke and J.A. Eaton. Most of the road bridges and culverts have been washed out and the roads badly damaged. The Railroads were unable to run trains from noon until early the next morning.

In 1909, the year after the flood Hog Creek was dredged and straightened. It was moved from behind the houses on what is now north Illinois Street to the west side of the Monon Railroad and deepened to lower the water table and dry out what was at one time a very wet town.


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