OHIO VALLEY — Imaging waking up tomorrow and the Ohio River being nearly 50 feet higher than it is right now.
A little more than 80 years ago that was the case along the Ohio River.
As of this writing, the Ohio River level at the Racine Locks and Dam was at 16 feet deep, meaning the level in Pomeroy was approximately 19 feet.
In late January 1937, the river was more than 50 feet deeper than that in spots throughout the region.
The great flood of 1937 saw the highest recorded river crest in Gallipolis at 69.60 feet, narrowly beating the 1913 flood which saw a crest of 67.90 feet.
In Pomeroy and Point Pleasant, the 1937 flood was the second highest crests recorded. In Pomeroy it was 67.8 feet, one foot lower than the 1913 flood, while in Point Pleasant it was 62.70 feet, .10 feet lower than the 1913 flood.
Local historian Jordan Pickens told the Sentinel of the Frank Titus residence on Lincoln Hill which was used by the Ohio State Highway Patrol and radio operators for communication. This was the only communication in or out, relaying information about weather conditions and when help was coming as telegraph and phone lines were down and there was no rail transportation. In addition to Ohio State Highway Patrol, a network of professional radio operators and ham radio operators that assisted with getting the message out.
The resilience of the people is what Pickens said stood out most to him about the flooding in 1937. The flood caused businesses to bankrupt, and took homes and possessions from people who already had very little in the great depression, but they battled back and rebuilt.
The widespread flooding along the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Illinois, prompted steps to be taken to help prevent future flooding. Reservoirs were constructed and dams were ultimately built along the river.
Additional photos from 1937, along with a photo project undertaken by John Scott’s daughter and granddaughter, Mary Wise and Jennifer Harrison, on the 75th anniversary of the flood can be found on the Meigs County Historical Society Facebook page or on display at the museum in Pomeroy through March.
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