R. C. Howard wrote the following to give us a glimpse of the character of Major William E. Sleeth. “Soon after I came to Arkansas City in 1884 we had the spring floods. My first remembrance of Major Wm. E. Sleeth was during these floods. The first time I ever saw him was on South Sixth Street, where I happened to go in the capacity of a reporter for the Republican to view the flood and report it. Major Sleeth was at the South Sixth street wooden bridge and was engaged in tying the north end of it to the big tree at the side of the road on the north side of the river at Sixth street. He had the rope fastened to the end of the bridge and was tying the rope around the tree to hold the bridge in place when I came along on a cow pony, which I had borrowed for the occasion. The Major was just finishing the job as I rode up. The water was out of the banks of the river and was rapidly getting higher all the time. I will say it was the action of Major Sleeth that saved the Sixth Street bridge at that time. He was doing the work by himself. No one else was in sight except myself. I relate this instance just to show that Major Sleeth had the good of Arkansas City at Heart in those early days. This was true of him until death claimed him.”
Sleeth was a pioneer member of the United Presbyterian Church and was active in this church all his life. He held the office of county commissioner for two terms, and city and township treasurer for six years, and was a member of the city council in 1876.
FLOOD, ARKANSAS CITY, 1921.
Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Friday, June 10, 1921.
FLOOD WATERS SWEEP ONWARD TOWARDS CITY
Arkansas Threatens Farm Lands in Low Districts.
CARRIES MUCH DEBRIS
Squatters Here Forced to Move Homes on Bank.
FARMERS MOVE STOCK
Rampaging Torrent Gnawing Way at Boundaries Along Arkansas Valley District.
First on the Scene.
The Traveler this morning had a representative out over the Arkansas River, watching for the expected five feet rise in the river which Wichita reported. The trip was made by airplane, Cecil Lucas of the Lucas-Hume field flying the American Curtiss ship owned by Arthur LaSarge. The travelers experienced three rains in their trip, which carried them past Oxford.
Like a giant serpent, winding its way in and about the prosperous Kansas farm lands, the Arkansas River today does not present the view of a peaceful fishing stream, but that of turbulent waters, bent upon delivery destruction to every point. From an altitude of 900 feet the onrushing torrents, sweeping in from the recent Kansas rains and the flood waters in Colorado, appear to be gnawing away at the remaining feet of the bank along the river in an attempt to gain entrance to the fertile farm lands.
Along the entire route between Arkansas City and Wichita the flood waters are tearing down the stream, carrying with them refuse, mud, and rocks, which here and there presents the appearance of a dead animal, sweeping on gaining strength and momentum as it passes every mile marker.
Heading into the northwest with one of June’s “southwesters” to our back, Lucas dropped the plane to a low altitude as the first splotch of river was sighted. Leashing against the sides of the banks, here and there cutting off in small streams into the farm lands where it starts to wash away crops, the river gave its first appearance of being a troublesome factor.
Keeping low, the first rain of the morning was hit, a rain which extended five miles in width, a steady downpour which added greatly to the watery stretch sweeping down on the city. The ship cleared the initial shower just this side of Geuda Springs, and we were again able to watch the rampaging water highway.
At no place along the entire route had the water gained entrance to the lands, but in several places the banks needed just about a foot more rise before they would have given out. Here and there farmers could be seen diligently toiling to get their stock away from the river before it had leaped over its boundaries, carrying with it a huge stock toll.
Just outside of Oxford, the first evidence of what might be the initial onslaught of flood waters appeared. Swirling, making miniature whirlpools along the entire route, the dirty yellow torrents careened on down the river, dealing destruction to every living thing venturing in the way of its mad course.
To our right the flood waters were backing up through a small gully, gnawing away at the remaining space existing between the river and a farmer’s backyard. Hurriedly the farmer and his son were driving from the adjacent fields a herd of Holstein cattle. Everything seemed to be happening in a hurry as the river kept on its continual maddening flight down towards the southern agricultural regions of the state.
A sudden turn on the part of the ship took place and it was headed back towards Arkansas City. Pilot Lucas pointed toward the southwest, where huge, black clouds could be seen rolling, sending a constant downpour of rain. Off to the west a lone white cloud, shaped in the form of a funnel, was seen. Lucas cut off the pounding plane and yelled his guess that it was a cloud-burst—water below, water above, and many miles from home.
Returning on the east side of the stream, the west bank looked to be the most dangerous. Through the entire wooded country near Oxford, the water seemed to be ready to dash over the banks at any minute. Whirling huge stones as easily as it regularly carries small sticks, the river presented the appearance of a giant ugly beast ready to deliver destruction at the first unkind touch.
Then we hit the storm. Heading east it was dodged, but the entire country for a width of five miles took a drenching rain. Water could be seen lying over the fields. The river, which had the appearance of having lost some of its vengeance before, seemed refreshed by the drink and sped on in its ghastly carrousel.
At Arkansas City it could be seen that the squatter region was wiped out. A long line of wagons, horses pulling through the mud, dejected looking drivers and occupants, the squatter townees this morning could be seen wending miles onward farther south to drier regions.
Home—and the river still rampaging wearilessly with the vigor necessary to wash away any obstruction. It lashed at bridge supports throughout the city, throwing a murky spray to all sides. Flood fans by the hundreds were on all of the bridges watching the advance of the waters as they rushed in from Colorado and western Kansas lands; and as the giant plane hummed over the bridge, its wings glistening in the sunlight, not a head was turned to watch its course as every flood fan was anxiously watching the bridge, its supports, and the slimy stagnation rushing to the farm lands.
About the middle of the afternoon County Commissioner Carl Dees informed the Traveler that the Arkansas was about four feet above the low water mark and was rising slowly. The Kansas Gas & Electric Co. received a message from the head office at Wichita that the river was on a standstill there. The Walnut this afternoon was up only one foot and was rising slowly. However, on account of the recent heavy rains in Butler County, the Walnut is expected to be higher in a short time. The Arkansas also is expected to be higher at this point sometime tonight or tomorrow.
Arkansas City Daily Traveler, Friday, June 10, 1921.
Pilot Walter Beech returned last night from Caldwell, where he had been on business for the Lucas-Hume Aircraft company. Beech was flying a Lincoln Standard plane.
Pilot Cecil Lucas, the early part of this week, took Arthur “Runt” LaSarge on his first solo trip. LaSarge made perfect landings and his flying was practically perfect all the way, according to bystanders.
[Note: Flyers were involved with 1923 Flood...news rather scanty concerning events. Many of the flyers got bogged down elsewhere. Irl Beach, Walter Beech were very busy.
Oldroyd notes reflected that Mrs. Childers, who lived at that time on A Street, had John Robson take her by canoe to north field, where a drunken flyer took her down to look for the big tank that had floated away from Kanotex. She was secretary-treasurer of the company at that time and I gather she “ran” things. Can’t help think Walter Beech was the drunken flyer, if this story is correct. Saw Marilyn Childers in the grocery store when Kay and I were busy getting book ready for printing and somehow or other conversation turned to the June 1923 Flood. If memory serves me correctly, she said she had papers written by Mrs. Childers (her mother-in-law) re riding on the tank to make certain it was not stolen. You might want to give her a call relative to this and also obtain some facts, possibly, about Kanotex Refinery.
FLOOD OF 1921
SATURDAY, JUNE 11, 1921
RIVER RISES AS PUEBLO WATERS FIRST HIT CITY
First of Deluge Strikes Here During Day.
FOUR FEET INCREASE
Expect Big Water Sheet Some Time Tonight.
GATES HOLD SOLIDLY
Great Trees Being Swept Down in Torrents From Western Districts.
Crashing, throwing great limbs through the air in its damp fury, the first of the Colorado flood waters arrived late this afternoon, causing the turbulent stream here to edge four feet closer to the top of the banks. Muddy, dank, and ghastly, the river presented the view of a boiling abyss, as it hastened on about the bends, bent on all further destruction possible.
Constant watch is being levied on all bridges, dams, and locks approaching the city as the unleashed torrent from the west hurls down through this district. Day and night, county and city roadmen are on the job, heeding the least sound of crackling, in order to prevent the death delivering mountain spray from washing away all of the prosperous Arkansas valley. Careful workmen are coaxing the maddened torrent from the path which leads through the city by means of gates, sending it on towards its mouth on the Mississippi.
Seemingly determined on destruction, the river lashes angrily at all banks in an attempt to scale walls into the fertile fields. At no place along the route near the city has water swept over the walls, but in many of the lowlands the creeping demon has started backing into farm lands. As yet no destruction has been dealt; but with another rise, the sweeping deluge will tear into the lowlands tearing down all forms of vegetation in its mad flight.
The first rise, due to the emptying into the Arkansas of the swollen Ninnescah stream, was edging close to a standstill when what was apparently the first of the Colorado terror swept down upon the local territory. It is expected that this first wave will continue to hike the river until late tonight when a practical subsiding will occur. Following that local water critics say the river will be at a standstill when the second wave, due in Wichita tonight, will strike. It is thought that the crest of the great torrent will not arrive here until late Monday night or Tuesday.
Huge timbers, hurled through the water with force enough to smash all resistance, are bowled at the locks north of the Chestnut avenue bridge, only to be propelled under the locks when they are dashed onward down the stream. Many workmen, keeping constant watch at this section, are hooking the great timbers as they are forced down the stream and deftly propel the timbers safely through the locks.
Early this morning reports from Oxford were to the effect that the Ninnescah waters were dying down slightly, but nevertheless noticeably during the entire day constant watch has failed to detect any slackening in the fury and increase of the stream at local points. Warnings from Wichita this morning were to the effect that the rise from Great Bend would hit there sometime tomorrow and that this would in turn sweep south over the angry course towards Arkansas City.
At the dam the water is surging over in great torrents sending up a dark, dirty spray as it collides with the rushing waters below. At no place along the dam is the situation tense as the big protector slides out across the river, forming a perfect check against all of the turbulent waters sweeping into the city. However, workmen patrol both sides of the dam, ready to jump in at the first emergency in case the least crack is noticed in the affair.
Farmers through the lowlands are watching carefully the situation and are ready to move out at a minute's notice in case the death-dealing damp visitor should increase its velocity as it bowls down the course. Stock over the entire lowlands country has been moved to higher points. Farmers in the higher land along the river have also taken precautionary movements with their stock to save any possible damage which might result from the increasing waters.
At Summit street the squatters have moved out. Their once happy home lands are fast being covered with the slimy Colorado filth being hurled down through the district, and much of the debris along the banks is being swept on along the river to be reposed in other places farther south.
Flood fans, walking, driving everything from the one-hoss shay to high-powered motor cars, constantly keep a patrol of the districts. Some calamity spilling visitors, others careful in their attitude, while those persons who allow the river to run out—and they have no fears as to what it will do—hourly sweep across the many river approaches watching the rising stream.
With every swish against the bridges' supports, the rampaging Arkansas is increasing, its rise is hurried, and the situation grows a little more tense. With the precautionary methods put into action, Arkansas City will sail out under the flood in good shape—but the crest is not here. There will be more lurid waters, punishing, tearing at banks, creating a general disturbance, before the river has finally subsided and eases back to its normal course.
SATURDAY, JUNE 11, 1921
PUEBLO IS FOR "PREVENTION."
Congress Will be Asked to "Harness" The Rivers.
Mayor Issues Proclamation And Will Send Delegation to Washington For The Purpose.
Pueblo, Colo., June 11.—Flood prevention became Pueblo's cry today following announcement of Mayor James M. Lovern that a committee would go to Washington to ask the federal government's aid in harnessing the Arkansas river and tributaries. A telegram from Secretary Fall of the interior department said that two engineers would be sent at once to make a survey.
The proclamation of Governor Shoup issued yesterday calling upon all organizations in the state to raise funds for relief work had a heartening effect on the populace. The Red Cross and affiliated organizations have the situation well organized, providing food and shelter and medical care for all needy.
The proclamation says the calamity is the greatest that Colorado has ever suffered and it is urgent that responses be quickly made.
The mortality list stood at 45 known dead today.
Dead in Flood District—94
Pueblo, Colo., June 11.—Ninety-four persons have been officially reported dead in the flood district lying between Pueblo and LaJunta, according to a compilation just made by a correspondent of the Associated press, in company with the Colorado Rangers and national guard.
The correspondents and rangers rode in a motorcycle from Pueblo to Rocky Ford, a distance of 55 miles, yesterday collecting data. The death list by towns follows:
Pueblo, bodies recovered, 45, as previously reported.
Avondale, bodies recovered, 3; missing, 5.
Boone, 7 bodies recovered.
Neupesta, 1 body found; one man and two women also reported drowned.
Manzanola and Fowler, each one body found.
Rocky Ford, bodies recovered, 2; Arthur Darr and 3 of his children.
Olney Springs, 3 bodies of flood victims buried.
Ordway, 2 bodies recovered.
LaJunta previously reported dead 18; body of unidentified woman wearing double ring on third finger on right hand buried here, total 19.
SATURDAY, JUNE 11, 1921
WILL DONATE TO PUEBLO
City Authorities and Chamber of Commerce Asking for $1,000
"The conditions in Pueblo justify the people of Arkansas City in giving to the limit"—Mayor Hunt.
With this statement in mind, members of the city commission and directors of the Chamber of Commerce at a joint meeting held last night decided upon the quota for Arkansas City in the drive for relief for Colorado sufferers. The amount was placed at $1,000 and early today parties were out soliciting among the business houses in an effort to raise the fund.
Lieutenants Nelson and Morris, of Post Field, who have been doing reconnaissance work along the Arkansas river through the Pueblo district, were in the city last evening en route to Lawton, and talked before the meeting.
In their statements last night, the pilots stated that people not having seen the flooded districts could have no idea of the damage done to Pueblo. Martial law is in strict effect, sightseers are absolutely excluded from the town, and everything even to the relief service is strictly under a martial rule.
The railroad yards are practically swept clean, box cars, tank cars, passenger cars alike are piled in great heaps over the city. Carcasses of cattle, horses, and hogs killed by the flood can be seen strewn over the entire city, and the stench arising from this is said to be terrible.
The business houses are practically ruined, and many merchants will be forced from business through the great flood loss. Sides of the buildings were torn away, and the entire stock was washed away in many instances. According to Lieutenant Morris, Pueblo is in the need of aid and is in need in the greatest manner.
Arkansas City people can be depended upon, according to Mayor Hunt, to give to the utmost towards the sufferers in that district, and there is no doubt expressed as to the possibility of raising $1,000 or better before the close of the day.
SATURDAY, JUNE 11, 1921
WICHITA WAKES TO HER DANGER FROM BIG FLOOD
Slight Fall in Water Shown At 9:00 This Morning.
GREAT BEND FRESHET
Will Put River Up So That Low Parts Submerge.
RIVER IS STATIONARY
At Hutchinson, at 6.3 Feet.
Falling From Great Bend Westward.
Rise Below There.
Wichita, Kans., June 11—The Arkansas river was slightly lower here at 9 a.m. this morning, but the city was preparing for possible flooding of lowlands tomorrow when it was predicted the great volume of water around Great Bend will reach here.
S. P. Peterson, federal weather observer, renewed his warning this morning that the worst of the flood danger had not passed. "With the unprecedented condition of the river now at Great Bend, the situation continues dangerous," he said. The crest of the flood might send the stream here two or three feet higher, he predicted. Thus far no damage has occurred in Wichita, although it was reported that water had crept up on low farm lands above and below here.
Merchants near the river were moving their goods out of basements and a few residents prepared for the worse.
Forces were at work around the twelve bridges here keeping driftwood from collecting. Many of the bridges are of weak construction.
The river continued to draw crowds of circus proportions. Every bridge was lined with spectators.
Conditions at Hutchinson
Hutchinson, June 11.—Flood conditions in the Arkansas river upstream showed an improvement this morning, though the stream is an inch and a half higher here this morning, the gauge registering 6.3 feet.
From Great Bend west the stream is falling, the fall being a foot at Larned and a foot and a half at Kinsley, and the stream is far toward normal at Dodge City.
The water is about at a standstill at Great Bend and the highest water is between Ellinwood and Hutchinson. It is believed by Ben Lee, city engineer, that the highest water will reach here late today and that it will not be more than three or four inches higher than at present.
The stream is altogether within its banks here save for scattering low spots where no damage has been done. The four railroad bridges are all right and three of the four automobile bridges are in good condition, the main street concrete bridge standing like a rock. One bridge is closed because of water undermining the approach a little bit.
Situation at Great Bend
Great Bend, June 11.—The Arkansas river was stationary here today at yesterday's high mark. Back water is increasing the inundation of lowlands. The breaking of the old irrigation dam southwest of this city has flooded thousands of acres of comparative high land there. The river is now more than three miles wide in some places. More than half the city is flooded with one to four feet of water. In the south part of town, the streets are swift rivers. As the waters rose, inhabitants were removed from their homes in boats.
Jack and Jim McMullen were rescued yesterday from an island farm where they were marooned. The boatman landed his passengers at the city hall and then took the city commissioners boat riding on Main street. The water is tearing up the pavement in many places. The crop loss in this vicinity will amount to $500,000.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, 1921
ARKANSAS ON A STANDSTILL
Water Rose Late Yesterday and Last Night Half Inch an Hour
The river today is at its highest point.
After days of careful watching on the part of local people for the descending torrents from Colorado, the turbulent stream has failed to leap over its bounds, and standing with its eight feet increase, the water still remains within the banks here leashing at the bluffs which restrain it from the city; but the river is safe today.
Reports from the river this afternoon were to the effect that the river since about ten o'clock this morning has been at a standstill. Since 7 o'clock and for about three hours the river seemed to be lowering to a slight extent.
During yesterday and last night the river was on the increase, not overly noticeable, but at a rate of about one-half an inch in every hour. This lasted for about twenty-four hours as during this period of time the river showed a gain of about one foot.
According to reports from along the river, the river has not gone out of bounds at any place. Even the lowlands so far have escaped the rushing waters throughout this section.
Despite the fact that Wichita is expecting more water from the Hutchinson district which may prove menacing in the lower parts of that city, people in Arkansas City are of the impression that the crest of the flood has been reached here.
Optimistic reports were heard from most of those men who have been watching the river carefully of late. However, there will not be any relaxation in the rigid guard being kept at the gates and dam in order that the entire district adjoining the river may be protected.
FOR THE FLOOD SUFFERERS
Arkansas City People are Shelling out to Colorado Folks.
Arkansas City is shelling out for Pueblo.
Arkansas City Traveler, Wednesday, June 15, 1921.
An announcement was made this morning to the effect that $764.50 had been turned in towards the fund and that more returns were being brought in daily. It is practically a certainty that the $1,000 goal will be hit before the next few days.
The Chamber of Commerce urges that everyone who intends to donate toward the fund turn in their donation immediately. Pueblo yesterday sent out another call for funds in order that they may beat back against disaster which struck the city some two weeks ago.
A number of people in the city have signified their intentions of donating towards this fund, but as yet have turned in no money towards the drive. It is urged that anyone desiring to turn in donations should either get in communication with the Chamber of Commerce officials or any one of the four banks in order to assist in the drive.
OVER EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS
Fund For the Relief of Colorado Flood Sufferers is Growing.
Arkansas City Traveler, Thursday, June 16, 1921.
Over eight hundred dollars has been subscribed up to date for the benefit fund for the Pueblo flood sufferers, according to an announcement made this afternoon by the secretary of the Chamber of Commerce. Part of these subscriptions have not as yet been paid. The total sum now is $852.50.
Those people who have subscribed toward the fund are urged again to turn in their payments at once as it is necessary that this fund be sent out soon. The Pueblo people are in need of the money now and it is urgent that the money be taken in at once.
Following is a total list of those who have subscribed toward the fund for the Pueblo victims.
$50.00 pledges—Kanotex Refining company; Home National bank.
$25.00 pledges—Hill Investment company; A. C. Milling company; Faulconer-Dale-Swarts.
$20.00 pledges—New Era Milling company.
$15.00 pledges—Dawson-Bishop Produce Co.; Oldroyd & Sons; Keefe, LeStourgeon Co.
$10.00 pledges—Comley Lumber company; Collinson Hardware company; Mrs. A. J. Hunt; Beard Foundry; Houston Lumber company; Dr. R. Claude Young; Kirkpatrick Furniture Co.; Badger Lumber Co.; Henneberry & Company; Boyer Hdw. Co.; W. N. Harris; A. C. Transfer Co.; A. C. Sand Co.; Dr. Chas. Dunning; Daily News.
$ 5.00 pledges—C. N. Hunt; Osage hotel; W. H. Nelson; O. O. Holt; James R. Hull; John Ames; Busy Bee; A. C. Paine and Paper Co.; Mrs. Virginia Hamilton; Dr. Milton Hahn; C. C. Lytal; Hall-Finney; Mrs. Johanna Henneberry; Houston-Hill; Sturtz Inv. Co.; Co-operative grocery; Reed Farrell; A. C. Bottling works; A. C. Business college; A. C. Floral Co.; A. C. Traveler; Huffman & Ward; Lee Biggs; Geo. L. Beard; H. D. Baylis; Hill-Howard; Bunnell Inv. Co.; Saddle Rock café; Geo. S. Hartley; Dr. C. H. House; C. A. Bahruth; J. L. Brown; Mrs. Mary Curtis; E. G. Collins.
$ 2.00 pledges—Mrs. Mary Clarke; Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Martin; W. E. Hall; Robert Cox; Chas. Herriford; H. W. Hendryx; E. C. Dye; W. T. Hamm; Mrs. Anna Ramsey; Mears Bros.; J. E. Cantrell; E. I. Leach; Russell Bros.; Mrs. J. O. Campbell; John Heffelfinger; Maude B. Harmon; Mrs. W. V. Reynolds; Mrs. Paul Way; Dr. H. J. Edwards; The Ideal grocery; J. W. Boyd.
$1.00 pledges—W. L. Martin; J. F. Maus; W. W. Rinehart; Guy Ecroyd; Duval Pharmacy; E. S. Dorrance; Mrs. Ida Buckley; Geo. M. Rooney; Mrs. J. P. Carlson; Mrs. W. G. Robson; Ms. W. V. Reynolds; Mrs. Paul Hartley; H. W. Earlougher; Miss Olive Ramage; Glenn Harrelson; Chas. Holmsten; W. L. Hopkins; John Probst; Sidle Coffee Co.; H. A. Clark; Mrs. H. H. Hill; H. B. Clapp.
Pledges on the Pueblo relief fund that are unpaid.
$25.00 pledges—Security National bank; Kininmonth Produce Co.
$10.00 pledges—A. C. Hide & Junk Co.; P. M. Clarke; J. C. Penney Co.; Drs. Day, McKay and Douglass; Wm. Cunningham.
$ 5.00 pledges—Hudson garage; Earl Baxter; E. L. McDowell; Geo. W. Saunders; Shea Furniture Co.; Devlin ready-to-wear; Economy Cash grocery; Anthony Carlton; Chicago store; Baer bakery; Ellis Billings; Palace Grocery; Newman Motor Co.; Davis Bros.; Domestic laundry; Fifth Avenue book store; Fifth Avenue hotel.
$ 3.00 pledges—J. T. Reeder; E. H. Clayton.
$ 2.50 pledges—J. R. Hayden.
$ 2.00 pledges—W. H. Hill; O. B. Seyster; R. R. Sawtell; Guy Curfman; Geo. B. Cornish; A. A. McAtee; Pete Hill; Fitch music store; C. N. Coleman.
$ 1.00 pledges—Chas. Shoup; Chester Harris; A. McAdams; G. G. Sawtell; Ray Seeley; Chas. Early; P. H. Richmond; Chas. Sills; Elston-McEwen Produce Co.; Dr. McCall; H. A. Schramm; Derry bakery; W. H. Rector.
Pledges, but no amount stated:
Doug Shaw; Service Motor shop; Scott & Son; Roseberry-MacAllister; Mattie Rice; Shank-Dweelaard; Frank Seal; Swartz Electric Co.; F. L. Richey.
THE ARKANSAS RIVER
Still Rising Slowly At This Point and May Come Higher.
Arkansas City Traveler, Saturday, June 18, 1921.
The Arkansas river here presents a rather questionable front today.
Slowly, and meekly, the river is gradually rising and today it is above the high mark for the season. During the night and this morning the river had risen between four and five inches without a sign of receding during yesterday. This puts the river at over 8 feet at the present time and it may yet go higher. The crest of the flood waters from the west have not yet reached here is the supposition, and the people who reside in the low lands are fearing the worst. The crowds from the city and surrounding country are watching the water daily and in the evenings especially, after the sun has gone down, there may be seen at all the bridges in this vicinity large numbers of those who are anxious to watch the big stream and look into the muddy water, said to be from the Colorado mountains.
ARKANSAS UP AGAIN
River Rose Here Last Night 5 Inches Due to Local Rains.
Arkansas City Traveler, Wednesday, June 22, 1921.
The Arkansas river was on the rise again in this locality last night due to the heavy local rains. During the night the water rose about five inches, thus reaching the high water mark of last week here. Today, however, the water was at a standstill and it is thought there will be no further rise at the present time. Yesterday and last night's rains are said to be the cause of the rise as the precipitation here in the past two days has been more than three inches. Last night's rain amounted to one and one-tenth inches, as shown by the gauge at the New Era Mill. The rain of the day before was 2.75 inches.
It was reported this morning that a part of the Madison avenue bridge over the Arkansas had gone out, but this is incorrect according to County Commissioner Carl Dees, who is watching the situation here very closely. Both the Madison avenue and the Sixth street bridges have been damaged to some extent by the high water, however, and in each one of them one of the beams is leaning. Both are old-time wooden structures and both are closed at present. They will remain closed to traffic until after the flood waters have receded and they can be repaired.
FLOOD, ARKANSAS CITY, 1922.
Over Four Inches of Rain Here.
Arkansas City Traveler, Saturday, April 8, 1922. Front Page.
With the exception of a thirty minute lapse at the noon hour, rain has fallen continually since four o’clock this morning and late this afternoon the precipitation had been almost four and one half inches....lowlands of the third and fourth wards and the first ward are all inundated at this time and the floods inside the city limits are equally as devastating as out of the city at the present time.
The rain of today was the heaviest since the downpour six years ago when there was more than seven inches of water fell here, inside of three hours. This was in June, 1916, and the rain of that day will not soon be forgotten.
At Kansas Avenue and Fourth Street there was such a deluge of water that the city street car could not make the turn on Kansas Avenue and was compelled to turn back to the south instead of making the run on Kansas Avenue, east.
A. C. Jordan of the Kirkwood Wind Engine Co., located on the banks of the Walnut river near the A. C. Mill, stated the Walnut was up nine feet at that time and was rising at the rate of two feet an hour at that time.
About 30 feet of the wall located on the east side of Third Street and near the corner of Third and Washington Avenue fell out onto the sidewalk. The wall at this particular spot is very high and it has been reported lately that the wall was not properly anchored at the time it was put in several years ago. This was part of the high retaining wall built of stone at the west side of the junior high school building.
Railroads: Frisco, a number of washouts along the track both east and west of here, the worst one of which was about four miles west of the city where 30 feet was said to be out.
The K. S. W., which runs to the west out of the Frisco station, did not get out at all today on account of track trouble along the Arkansas river where a half mile of track is washed out.
Midland Valley: passenger train from the east was being held at Silverdale, as there was a section of track out between that town and the city.
Missouri Pacific: train from Dexter will be late on account of washouts east of here...at last reports the conductor was walking in from Silverdale to make his report to the agent.
Santa Fe: everything all o.k.
[RIVERS HIGHER HERE: ONE BRIDGE DAMAGED.]
Arkansas City Traveler, Tuesday, April 11, 1922. Front Page.
County Commissioner Carl Dees, who made the rounds of the county bridges near this city this morning, reported that a part of the abutment to the West Madison Avenue bridge, at the east end of the bridge, had been taken out by the high waters and that this structure will have to be closed until after the flood has subsided and time is given to repair the damage. There has been a great amount of drift wood in both of the streams since they began rising several days ago, and the county road men have been on the job dislodging the drift from the bridges night and day since the flood waters came. The men who made the rounds of the bridges this morning for the inspection were compelled to go to the East Madison avenue structure in a boat as the water from the Walnut is almost up to the Santa Fe tracks on this and several of the other roads leading east from the city.
Man Riding a Log.
Arkansas City Traveler, Tuesday, April 11, 1922.
There was a weird story being related here this morning in regard to parties who saw a man riding on a large log down the center of the Walnut river here on Sunday afternoon. There seems to be no one who can be located at this time who really saw the man in this predicament but, nevertheless, the story was being told today. Those who are inclined to believe the story are wondering whether or not he gained the bank safely and how far he rode down stream on the log before being rescued, or was saved by his own hands.
Higher Than Last Flood
It is said that the present high water in the Arkansas is higher by at least two feet than in the recent flood here, at the time the Colorado waters came down in this stream. For a time last night and this morning the residences of a part of the Third ward were in danger of being flooded but this afternoon the serious situation there was said to be past and no one has moved out so far as is known at this time.
H. S. Benshoof and family, who reside between the Arkansas and the canal, a short distance north of the Chestnut avenue bridge, have abandoned their home as it is entirely surrounded by water and is located on very low land.
The force of laborers employed by the Land and Power Company of this city have been busy ever since the rise in the Arkansas, working to keep the headgates on the canal from going out. The gates were still intact this afternoon and the force is still on the job there.
Condition in Third Ward.
The condition in the third ward has required constant attention during the past twenty-four hours and City Commissioner F. L. Thompson has been on the job, overseeing the work, most of that time. It became necessary to do considerable diking on Sixth street next to the Sixth street bridge; and for this purpose, Commissioner Thompson put on a force of men with twelve teams and up to noon today, had prevented the water from spreading out over the low lands in the south part of town. The diking was done on the west side of Sixth street just north of the bridge. This caused considerable back water to spread over parts of the Third ward west of Sixth street, giving the people in this section of the ward considerable trouble, but as soon as the water in the river recedes the dike will be opened up and this water allowed to run off.
Thompson reported water was running very close to the edge of the high bank of the river at the south end of the Summit Street bridge.
Could Have Been Worse.
Had the above diking not been done, the water would have inundated that part of town where the city wells are located and extended east across South Summit street clear through to the Santa Fe railroad. This was prevented by the timely action of Commissioner Thompson and his force and by being constantly on the job to take care of the dike at points where at different times it was about to break through. As a consequence, the damage to this part of town was held down to the minimum and so far as learned no serious damage was sustained by property owners.
The Sixth Street bridge, which is an old one, having been originally built about forty years ago, and which had been expected to go out for several years past every time the river gets very high, still stands and has given no trouble except to condemn it during the period of high water. Parties who crossed this bridge yesterday, coming from the country south of here, stated that it was unsafe at that time.
County Commissioner Carl Dees is of the opinion that the bridges here, with the exception of the West Madison Avenue structure, which has already been damaged, are safe now and that they will withstand the flood waters provided the waters in either stream do not come any higher than at the present time.
[DAMAGED BRIDGES IN COWLEY COUNTY]
Arkansas City Traveler, Thursday, April 13, 1922.
Damage to the bridges in Cowley County as a result of the floods will amount to several hundred dollars and may go over a thousand, it was said at the courthouse today. Several small bridges have been washed out and some larger ones have been rendered unsafe for the present.
The bridge at West Madison avenue, Arkansas City, on the Arkansas was closed yesterday, it was reported, a part of the pier at the east end having been washed out. It cannot be repaired till the water goes down.
The Spahr bridge in Harvey township went out in the freshet, it was reported to County Commissioner Robert Goforth yesterday. A stone arch on the Tisdale road, about four miles east of town was partly washed out, so as to be impassible, another report stated. This is not the arch across Silver creek near the Canston place, but on a small branch west of that place.
The Arkansas river is reported two feet higher than it was at the time of the Colorado flood last June. It has begun to fall slowly, however, and further danger is over for the time being, it is believed.—Courier.
[EAST MADISON BRIDGE.]
Arkansas City Traveler, Friday, April 21, 1922.
THE OLD BRIDGE STANDS
Stump Puller is Used to Pull its Wobbling Legs in Place.
During the recent high water, the bridge on East Madison avenue held the center of attention. It was expected to go out at any minute. Why not? It is an old bridge and one of the hind legs was wobbling away out in the surging waters. About all it was fit for was to furnish the people who crave excitement with the spectacle of this old landmark being taken down the stream.
Now it is learned that this old bridge has a habit of acting this way every time a big flood comes. Commissioner Carl Dees says that after every flood, they have to hunt around in the water to locate those drum piers, then they use a stump puller to set them back up in place, and the old structure remains peaceful and contented until the next storm comes along.
Mr. Dees said he believed this bridge would stand for several hundred years and be expected to go out every time the water arose, but of course the stump puller would have to be kept on hand.
He said in a regular county commissioner tone of voice what amounted to the declaration that this bridge must go to the junk pile, and that a modern reinforced concrete bridge would probably span the Walnut at this point some time next year.
Only yesterday traffic across this bridge had to be suspended pending the suspension of its spans in proper form, the workmen evidently trying to get it in line with the new administration, so to speak. But why worry? Aren’t we promised a new bridge?
[DAMAGED WEST MADISON AVENUE BRIDGE TO BE REPAIRED.]
Arkansas City Traveler, Friday, April 21, 1922.
Work of repairing the damage to the West Madison Avenue bridge, caused by the recent flood, and which has kept the bridge closed ever since, will probably be started Monday, County Commissioner Carl Dees stated today. The principal part of the material has already been assembled for this purpose.
The embankment on the west end of the bridge was washed out and it was considered cheaper to build the bridge out to solid ground than to rebuild the embankment; consequently, piling and other material has been secured for this purpose and the pile driver is also on the ground. The work is in charge of Emmett Green.