Vernon, VT Dam Burst & Flood, Mar 1936

Big Vermont Dam Goes Out; Deaths In Its Path Feared.

BOSTON, Mass., March 18 (AP).---A $1,000,000 dam at Vernon, Vt., went roaring out before the force of the flood swollen Connecticut River Wednesday night. State police announced as they ordered everybody out of the valley below.

The power dam yielded at 11:10 p.m. Its powerhouse had been abandoned shortly before. A six-mile ice jam to the north had caused apprehension for several days.

Residents of Hatfield were marooned The report said Hadley and Sutherland were abandoned. Northfield was the first town in the path of the released waters. Some loss of life was feared.

New England previously had placed its death toll at eighteen because of floods which ravaged its lands the last week.

A southeast storm deluged the area. Mountain snows, softened by continued unseasonable warm temperatures, poured thousands of tons of water into raging rivers, which in turn engulfed communities, submerged highways and railroad trackage, swept bridges before them and cut lines of power, light and telephonic communication.

Most serious damage was along the winding valley of the Connecticut River and its tributaries, from the northern stretches of New Hampshire and Vermont to Long Island Sound, but scores of other streams in Western Massachusetts, Northern and Central Vermont added their toll.

Deaths Wednesday were:

Elizabeth, 7, and Donald Rattee, 5, drowned when they fell from a foot-bridge over a stream near Hancock, Vermont.

Mrs. Hiram S. Drury, Williamstown, Vt. dropped dead as she watched flood waters from a bursting dam.

Harold L. Smith, 42, father of twelve children, drowned at Windham, Vt., while attempting to divert water from flooding the basement of the lumber mill where he worked.

Harry R. Willis, railroad freight agent, and two children were swept to death, when a bridge on which they were standing swept into the Nashua River.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 19 Mar 1936


1936 Connecticut River Flood

My father was also acquainted with the family of Harold Smith who was mentioned in an earlier post as having drowned in Windham, VT during this flood. Many years later I went to school with his granddaughter.

1936 Connecticut River Flood

My Dad had always told me for years that what caused the 1936 flood in Vernon, VT and Northfield, MA and downriver was that an ice dam had formed on the Connecticut River, water built up behind it and it suddenly broke flooding the plain below. My Dad would know as his uncle, Charles Tenney, lost every one of his cattle on his farm in Northfield except for one that was sick and so kept in a different place.. The water came up so fast that there was no time to get them out of the barn and take them to higher ground. "Uncle Charlie" was a good businessman and a hard worker and, while uninsured, later built up his farm to become the largest dairy farm in New England!

vernon dam article

It is not Sutherland. The towns name is : SUNDERLAND.

1936 Flood report of Vernon Dam failure was wrong

The transcription of the article is accurate, but the information is wrong. The Vernon Dam did not "go out" as originally feared on March 18, 1936 at 11:10pm. Articles two days later reported that the sandbagging effort on the flanks of the dam had been successful.