Monday, June 24, 2013

Bovina's 1894 Flood

When the Bovina Center hamlet experience a flood in August 1953 (go to April 26, 2009 and August 14, 2011 entries in this blog for more information), Walter 'Watt' Coulter recalled that it was the worst flooding since that of 1894.  So what was 1894 like?

The flood of 1894 happened 119 years ago today on Sunday, June 24, causing about $7,000 in damage (about $190,000 in today's money) - $3,000 in damage to bridges and roadways and $3,000 to $4,000 in damages inflicted on local farmers and businesses.

It started in the afternoon when two clouds seemed to meet over Mt. Pisgah.  The brief but intense downpour overfilled the streams in the upper part of the town, causing them to rapidly overflow their banks and send a large load of debris down the Little Delaware.  Included in the debris were sections of a number of bridges going down Bovina road to the Butt End and beyond.  A new arch bridge at the Butt End, which had only been built about two years before, was partially damaged.  The Johnson Brother's Woolen Mill saw extensive damage to the dam containing their mill pond.  The shingle mill at the rear of the building was carried away completely.  The loss at the Johnson Brother's alone was around $1000.

The torrent of water continued into Bovina Center, damaging the bridge at Thomas Hilson's and taking away the milk house of William Liddle on its way (these appear to be a couple of farms on County Route 6 about a mile from the hamlet).  Another Hilson, Alexander, lost the bridge at his property.  It was feared that Dennis's mill, located across from about where Hugh Lee's house is located, would fall victim to the flood but by then there was enough driftwood to form a breastwork and thus the mill was saved.  Scott's bridge at the lower end of the hamlet withstood the torrent but the water was running very high.  The flats beyond the bridge did see considerable damage.  As the Andes Recorder reported, "the flood as seen by those who could see it coming appeared like a huge wall of water eight or ten feet high."  The flood continued to the Hook and took out the bridge there (located at present Route 28).  It was determined afterwards to replace that bridge with an iron one.

Along with the property damage, a number of farmers lost some of their livestock.  The Andes Recorder noted that "a number of hogs and a cow were found on the flats down the Little Delaware that had come down with the flood."

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