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Aurora, IN Flood, Feb 1884

“As a result of their precautions, the citizens of Aurora will not suffer nearly as much as they did in 1882 or in 1883, and the destruction of property will not be one-third as much as in either of those years. Warning came over the wires: ‘Prepare for seventy feet.’ That would be three feet and six inches more than we had in 1883, and the people lost no time in preparing. All the people living in houses likely to be submerged moved into their second stories, where they were high enough, and where this was not the case they abandoned the houses and moved to higher ground. All of our merchants moved their goods and perishable property beyond the possible reach of the water, and thus saved everything, many of them working night and day to accomplish their object. Of course Cobb’s Iron & Nail Company, the Sutton Mill Company, Aurora Distilling Company, and the Aurora Valley Furniture Company were drowned out and stopped operations, but, aside from loss of time, trouble and inconvenience, their losses will not amount to much. With the river already bank full (and over its banks in many places), the rain commenced Monday night, February 4, and poured down almost incessantly till Thursday morning, February 7. Tuesday, February 5, the water was over the sidewalk from the Eagle Hotel to the Crescent Brewery, and in all that portion of town north of Hogan Creek, and between George Street and the river. Then the rise was rapid, and the water extended up Second Street to Mechanic Street, up Third to Main, up Mill Street to the office of the Aurora Distilling Company, and up Main Street to its intersection with Third.

“The above part of this article was written Monday morning, when we had the faintest hope that there would not be much more to tell, but the rains kept coming up till last night, when they finished early in the night with a heavy climax, and then the wind changed, and the most welcome cold snap that ever visited any community fell upon us and put a check to the rain, and gave us hope that the river would not overflow the hilltops, at least. But the rainfall had been general through the-whole valley of the Ohio, and the greatest of all floods was inevitable. Up and up and up it climbed, driving people from one refuge to another, until 4 o’clock this Thursday afternoon, February 14, 1884, it had reached a point six feet above the once legendary flood of 1832. It stood at this height for some time, as if meditating whether to burst itself in one final effort to do yet greater things, and then it began very slowly to recede.

“In order that those of our readers who are away from Aurora may understand the height of the flood, we will give them a few old landmarks to go by. The water was just to the top of the door of the old yellow brick house on Cobb’s corner, which house has stood in all the great floods since 1832. It was eight feet and ten inches deep on the floor in Cobb’s store; it stood in the gutter in front of Dr. Sutton’s office, on Third Street; it was about eight inches deep on the inside corner of the pavement at the Catholic Church, on Fourth Street; it went up Second Street as far as the front door of Tuck’s building, at the corner of Bridgeway; it backed up Broadway nearly to Hogan Creek, six inches more would have sent it through the whole length of Broadway; it stood. several inches deep in Stedman & Co. ‘s foundry; it backed up Main. Street beyond Third, so that by stepping across the pavement from the front door of the old Asa Shattuck residence, one would step into the river; it was over the door knob of Dr. Bond’s residence, on George Street, and was up into the yard at John Cobb’s residence; it was in some places over the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad, between Aurora and Lawrenceburgh; over the tops of the telegraph poles, and was over the roofs of freight cars loaded with stone that were placed on the Wilson Creek bridge. Those of you who have only seen the high water of 1832 and 1847, in Aurora, have no idea of what a real high water in the Ohio is.

“The highest point of the present flood stands within half an inch of being six feet above the once famous flood of 1832, and is three feet and two inches above the flood of last year.”—Independent, February 14, 1884.

“In other words, we don’t believe Aurora’s loss will foot up more than $20,000, unless you count the loss of time to factories being idle; and how often are they shut down to reduce stock, or by reason of a strike, for a longer period than the flood closed them? True, Aurora has lost more houses than she did last year, and more are off of their foundations, but the loss of household goods is not nearly so great this year, and the loss of mercantile stock is actually nothing worth naming, while last year it was very great, because people would not then believe that the flood would surpass every previous one, and did not get out of the way. * * * * Taking all things into consideration, we cannot help but believe that Aurora has suffered less loss this year than she did last, although this flood has been with us, and upon us, more than twice as long as that of 1883. “—Independent, February 21, 1884.

History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, Indiana, 1885, Pages 322-324



article | by Dr. Radut