Wednesday, February 1, 2017

1913's Wild Weather

The unprecedented Great Easter Flood was only the beginning of a year of meteorological extremes. July 1913 brought the hottest recorded temperature on Earth—still the record—in Death Valley, and November a bizarre “white hurricane” in the Great Lakes. And, oh yes, a nationwide drought. Why?

1913 was a year of total weather whiplash. 

After monumental winter and early spring storm systems that brought unusually early tornadoes that still—over a century later—count as Nebraska’s deadliest, plus sustained intense rainfall across the Midwest that caused floods that still (2017) hold records across Ohio and Indiana, it was almost as if a meteorological faucet suddenly shut off.
In 1913, Death Valley reached the highest temperature on Earth. (This happened six months after Death Valley set its own record low temperature in January 1913. And 1913 was also Death Valley’s wettest calendar year on record for 102 years.) Credit: Trudy E. Bell

From April through August, rainfall over Indiana—so recently hammered by the worst flood in its history—virtually dried up in a sustained heat wave and drought. From June 15 through July 5, temperatures topped 90 degrees nearly every day, and soared above 100 on some. Parts of the state suffered rainfall up to 10 inches below normal, aggravated by hot winds, which damaged a wide variety of crops and diminished water supplies

Nor was Indiana alone: neighboring Illinois, Kentucky also sweltered. In Kansas and parts of neighboring states, the corn crop failed. In Oklahoma and parts of Texas, the cotton crop suffered. Over much of the country, fruits, nuts, and vegetables withered. Indeed, the 1913 heat wave and drought was felt from New England to the Rocky Mountains in a “period of about 12 weeks of almost continuous excess of heat,” according to Monthly Weather Review of the National Weather Service, which devoted more than 24 pages of its September 1913 issue to discussing the drought. The heat was accompanied by almost desert-like weather “with almost continuous sunshine, frequent hot winds, and deficient humidity” that “combined to produce one of the most disastrous seasons” on record.

In Death Valley, in the midst of its own 1913 summer heat wave that had temperatures bouncing off 125 and 130 degrees at Furnace Creek (then called Greenland Ranch), that the mercury soared to 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10. First cited as a high-temperature record for California, it later became recognized as the “highest authentic natural-air temperature that…had ever been recorded anywhere under approved conditions of equipment and exposure”—meaning anywhere in the world. (In 1922, it was claimed to be surpassed on September 13 by a temperature of 136 degrees in Azizia, Tripoli—now El Azizia, Libya—but in 2012 after nine decades of debate, an official investigation by the World Meteorological Organization overturned that claim due to instrumental and observer errors.) In short, the hottest temperature on the planet was recorded in Death Valley in summer 1913.

But wait, there’s more. On January 8, 1913, Death Valley also reached its own low-temperature record—9 degrees Fahrenheit. That may not sound like much to people in the Midwest and Northeast, but “the great freeze” (as it came to be called) devastated the citrus industry in southern California  and directly led to the U.S. Weather Bureau’s establishing of the fruit frost forecast program. And oh, yes, 1913 in Death Valley also set the record for being the wettest calendar year (4.54 inches from January through December, more than double the usual average annual rainfall of 1.94 inches)—a record sustained for more than a century until broken by the “superbloom” year of 2005 (4.73 inches).

The ‘white hurricane’
November 7–11, 1913, not even six months after the Great Easter deadly tornadoes and flood, another tragic weather catastrophe struck the Midwest: the nation’s greatest inland marine disaster. Sustained winds of 50 to 70 mph reached hurricane-force with gusts up to 90 mph whipped up waves as high as 35 feet on the Great Lakes, sinking at least 12 ships and killing at least 250. Cleveland was buried under more than 17 inches of snow dropped in less than 24 hours.

A centennial computational simulation revealed that (echoing the Great Easter storm system) disaster came as a devastating one-two punch: a “pre-storm” of Nov. 7–8 followed by the actual “white hurricane” to deliver what is called a “meteorological bomb.”
Weather around the world is always violent and setting records here and there. But the confluence of so many exceptional and powerful events in 1913 (and 1912) nonplused mariners and meteorologists alike at the time, along with others having trained astute weather eyes. “Atmospheric conditions have been deranged the world over for the last two years, and the oldest mariners say that nothing like it has been known within their memory,” reported one newspaper account. “Weather bureau officials say the last week or ten days” [meaning the time leading up to the Great Easter tornadoes and floods] “has presented the most extraordinary situation in regard to the weather that has existed since the creation of the bureau,” reported another.

When in March 2006 I was driving back from a conference in Omaha and discussing this by cellphone with the late historian of astronomy Craig B. Waff, he asked: “Do you think something like a volcano could have been a cause? I’ll google on 1912 and volcano. Bingo!” And he started reading aloud about Novarupta, the biggest volcanic eruption of the 20th century, on the Katmai peninsula in Alaska. 

Six months later, I was able to write an article (published October 3 in Science@NASA) about the possible effect that this high-latitude volcanic eruption might have had on weakening the 1913 monsoons in India, based on computational simulations at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In 2006, when I was interviewing one of the authors (Alan Robock of Rutgers), I asked about the possibility of Novarupta’s also having some influence on the Great Easter storm system, but he had not looked into U.S. effects. 

Quite independently, Air Force meteorologist Evan Kuchera—in his own reconstruction of the 1913 Nebraska tornadoes (see “To Build a Tornado”)—had also run across similar articles quoting the amazement of meteorologists at 1913 weather. “I take such comments very seriously, because meteorologists as a group are not given to hyperbole,” Kuchera said. 
My speculative question to the Omaha-Offutt chapter of the American Meteorological Society in a September 2014 presentation on the meteorology of the 1913 flood (same presentation was also the source of the other slides above).

In September 2014, when I was presenting an invited talk on the 1913 storm system to the Omaha-Offutt chapter of the American Meteorological Society, I asked the audience of meteorologists about the plausibility of some effect from such a major volcanic eruption. “Given its placement, it likely would have had the effect of strengthening the North Atlantic Oscillation, which could have had a forcing effect in the right direction,” Kuchera mused.

To be sure, a hypothesis is not a smoking gun, nor is a top-of-head hunch scientific proof. But a volume published by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2012 for Novarupta’s centennial noted that aerosols from the powerful eruption were still suspended in the stratosphere by late 1914, which likely would have affected the radiation budget of the earth. 

Historical measurements exist and modern feedback is encouraging that the question is at least worth exploring in a quantitative manner. I would welcome contact from any computational climatologist or other expert who would be willing/able to perform some kind of simulation using either the 20th Century Reanalysis Project (as Sarah Jamison did for the rainfall of the 1913 flood; see “Be Very Afraid… ) and/or another tool. Please e-mail me!

©2017 Trudy E. Bell

Next time: Desperate Medicine

Selected references
November's Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes 1913 Hurricane by Michael Schumacher was published by the University of Minnesota in 2014. See also the older White Hurricane by David G. Brown, International Marine, 2002. 

Bell, Trudy E., The Great Dayton Flood of 1913, Arcadia Publishing, 2008. Picture book of nearly 200 images of the flood in Dayton, rescue efforts, recovery, and the construction of the Miami Conservancy District dry dams for flood control, including several pictures of Cox. (Author’s shameless marketing plug: Copies are available directly from me for the cover price of $21.99 plus $4.00 shipping, complete with inscription of your choice; for details, e-mail me), or order from the publisher.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy Centennial Year + 4!

Happy New Year 2017 and thanks to all readers of this research blog! 100,000 views and counting, plus the annual subject index to posts about the nation's nearly forgotten most widespread natural disaster

Over the past four-plus years since “'Our National Calamity': The Great Easter 1913 Flood” (ONC) was launched in November 2012, this research blog has published 53 installments—most of them full-length heavily documented research articles—by guest authors as well as myself. That’s the equivalent of an entire book. A good many of them represent in-depth original analysis based on new primary sources. And they are read. As of the end of 2016, ONC has attracted more than 100,000 hits, and now averages 3,000 to 11,000 hits per month. A heartfelt thank-you goes out to every reader. 

As one of ONC's purposes is to provide a lasting, comprehensive guide to resources published about the March 1913 storm system, devastation, and its societal consequences and implications, broadly interpreted, below is my fourth annual New Year’s Day gift to historians, meteorologist, curators, descendants of sufferers: a handy subject index categorized by general topic. Also, an updated searchable running list in Word in reverse chronological order is also posted multiple times throughout the year at the top left link on the 1913 flood page of my website.

For meteorology of the powerful Great Easter storm system: 
To Build a Tornado (March 1, 2016) Not one, but three violent tornadoes struck the Omaha metro area in a single hour Easter Sunday 1913. What weather conditions built those tornadoes? Could they recur? By guest author Evan Kuchera, USAF meteorologist
Map of the modern Omaha metro area with the approximate tracks of what were called the Yutan, Omaha, and Council Bluffs tornadoes. From west to east, all three F4 tornadoes—some of the most violent that occur—struck within 20 miles and 45 minutes. Credit: Evan Kuchera

Terror in Terre Haute (May 1, 2015)  A modern reconstruction reveals that the violent tornado that ripped through southern Terre Haute, Indiana, on Easter night, March 23,1913, may have been more than one twister, and documents that its full path of destruction extended over 25 miles
Great Easter 1913 Dust Storm, Prairie Fires—and Red Rains (December 1, 2014) A mammoth Easter Sunday dust storm set raging prairie fires fires in two states and caused "blood rains" in three states
Earth-Shaking Mystery (October 1, 2014) Was a sizeable earthquake that rocked Knoxville, Tennessee, on March 28, 1913—just when the massive floodwaters were receding from Ohio and Indiana—somehow related to or even triggered by the Great Easter Flood?  
Be Very Afraid... (December 23, 2012) Why the Great Easter 1913 storm system could recur—profile of a computational reanalysis from 1913 data of what happened, by Cleveland-based National Weather Service senior hydrologist Sarah Jamison
“My Conception of Hell” (December 2, 2012) The Great Easter 1913 Omaha tornado
The First Punch (November 25, 2012) A mammoth Good Friday windstorm that decimated communications set the stage for national tragedy 

For facts and figures about death and destruction: 
Mapping Disaster (August 1, 2016) What is revealed when 1913 high-water measurements are input into today’s Geographic Information System (GIS) computational tools? By guest author Barry Puskas of the Miami Conservancy District
Dramatic digitized map of 1913 flood depths in Dayton, Ohio, was one of nine geo-referenced maps created by Barry Puskas and colleagues at the Miami Conservation District (MCD) between 2008 and 2012, synthesizing data from 1915 hand-drawn maps with modern GIS techniques.
Like a War Zone (March 16, 2013) A modern reanalysis of official documents, revealing that the destruction of property exceeded that of Hurricane Katrina, centered on the industrial North
“Death Rode Ruthless...” (February 18, 2013) A modern reanalysis of official documents reveals that a minimum of 1,000 lives were lost across 15 states (this is the second most viewed post in ONC, with nearly 2,000 views)

For victims’, rescuers’, and predators’ responses: 
Men of the Hour (April 1, 2016) Heedless of personal danger, a handful of police officers from the Indianapolis Police Department rescued over 600 people in devastated West Indianapolis during the Great Easter 1913 Flood. By guest author Patrick R. Pearsey
Captain George V. Coffin (middle) and Bicyclemen Charles Gollnisch and Thomas O’Brien (left and right) not only rescued West Indianapolis residents during the 1913 flood but also helped with relief and cleanup after the flood. Credit: Indianapolis Star

Service Above Life (September 1, 2015) Out of the rubble, mud, and ashes of Easter 1913 tornadoes and floods that devastated a third of the United States, Rotary discovered its mission of humanitarian service. Unpublished letters and meeting minutes discovered in Rotary’s archives reveal the backstory
Wireless to the Rescue! Birth of Emergency Radio (April 1, 2014) High school and college students are the first to establish quasi-reliable communications into the flood districts, and at the end of flood week bills for emergency radio are being presented to Congress
High-Wire Horror (February 1, 2014) First-person harrowing accounts from people trapped in houses who escaped approaching flames by literally tight-rope walking telephone lines over floodwaters to safety
Spurning Disaster Aid (September 1, 2014) Why did cities and individuals, even those who had lost everything, refuse relief?
Advertising Disaster (November 1, 2014) Within 24 hours, tornado insurance agents and others were clamoring for victims' cash

For significance today, including lessons for current-day disasters:
Crisis Communications in a Communications Crisis (July 1, 2016) When communications infrastructure is devastated for days or weeks in a horrific multistate natural disaster, how can city and state leaders or local volunteers orchestrate evacuations, aid, relief, and recovery? Where internet and electronics go out, lessons from the 1913 flood are useful
AT&T’s flooded facilities during the 1913 flood versus the flooded lobby of Verizon’s headquarters at 140 West Street in lower Manhattan almost a century later during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Message: Natural disaster can happen again and could disable 21st-century communications.

Misery in Missouri...and Beyond (February 1, 2016) The major December–January 2015–2016 flooding down the Mississippi River, the recent disaster raises thought-provoking questions
Spectacular drone footage at sunrise on New Year’s Day, 2016, of the Mississippi River at near-record height held back by the concrete floodwall at Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Credit: Oral R. Friend
Katrina + 10: Once and Future Disasters (August 1, 2015) Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina—third most intense hurricane to make landfall in the U.S., based on central pressure—slammed into the U.S. Gulf Coast, beginning the nation’s worst and most widespread disaster since the Great Easter 1913 flood. Ten harsh lessons from both
Prayers and Lessons (June 1, 2015) The massive multistate flooding in the southern plains states in late May 2015 actually approaches the magnitude of the multistate Great Easter 1913 Flood in some ways. Message: Extreme, widespread, non-hurricane rain events in the middle of the nation can happen again. Are we ready?
Floods and Other Disasters (February 1, 2015)  Despite more knowledge and ability to manipulate nature, we have increased our exposure and susceptibility to natural hazards. Why? Distinguished Carolina Professor Susan L. Cutter explores our current hazardscape
Benchmarking ‘Extreme’ (July 1, 2014) What infrastructure today would lie in harm’s way if 1913-scale tornadoes and flood recurred in the same places?
A greater concentration of people, of course, means a greater concentration of personal household wealth (automobiles, TVs, computers, cell phones, etc.) as well as greater commercial assets and infrastructure (schools, shopping centers, grocery stores, cell phone towers, internet servers).

For coverage in the 1913 media: 
Eloquence Beyond Words (April 1, 2015) The Great Easter 1913 national calamity inspired artists to depict fundamental truths in editorial cartoons more powerful and pithy than words or photographs
Screening Disaster (March 1, 2014) The 1913 flood may be the first natural disaster filmed while it was still in progress; includes links to surviving footage  
The Governor’s Ear (December 16, 2012) How two Bell Telephone engineers got the word to Ohio Governor James M. Cox

For enduring consequences: 
The Day the Dam Broke? (October 1, 2015) One of the humorist James Thurber's most famous stories was inspired by a bizarre incident during the 1913 flood in Columbus, Ohio. The backstory…
Magnum Opus (June 1, 2014) Stunning murals on concrete floodwalls in 13 Ohio River cities and towns keep history alive--including the 1913 flood 
Morgan’s Cowboys (January 20, 2013) What is the worst possible flood? And how can a city protect against it? A young engineer figures out how
Morgan’s Pyramids (January 27, 2013) Building the monumental but elegantly simple works to protect Dayton forevermore
Local histories: 
'Clevelanders Responding Nobly...' (May 1, 2016) Although crippled and without power itself during the Great Easter 1913 flood, Cleveland rushed aid to Dayton and Zanesville. And with telegraph and telephone wires downed, the Plain Dealer became the principal information lifeline across flooded northern Ohio 
Credit: Cleveland Leader, March 28, 1913, p. 2

Exhibiting Disaster (December 1, 2105) Not two years after the Great Easter 1913 flood, Dayton, Ohio, celebrated its comeback with an exhibit in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco—a city celebrating its comeback after the 1906 earthquake.
Never Before Seen (July 1, 2015) Eight previously unknown photographs of the 1913 flood purchased on ebay portray the flood at its peak in Rochester, New York. Who was the mystery photographer?
Explosion at Equality (March 1, 2015) On Sunday, April 6, 1913, the swollen Ohio River backed more than 20 miles up Illinois’s Saline River, flooding a coal mine that residents of Equality were desperately trying to save—exploding the mine
36 Hours: From Boys to Leaders (August 1, 2014) Fewer than 100 Culver Military Academy cadets rescued 1,400 Indiana residents; by guest historian Richard Davies, Ph.D.  
Tragedy at the Circus (February 10, 2013) Elephants and big cats were among fatalities when 1913 floodwaters swept through Peru, Indiana. By environmental historian Ron E. Withers, M.A.

Circus performer atop carcass of elephant drowned in 1913 flood in Peru, Indiana. Credit: Miami Co Museum
Rescuing Albany’s Water (January 13, 2013) It was also the Hudson River’s greatest flood—and what New York did about it
The Prisoners’ Feast (December 30, 2012) How the inmates of the Indiana State Reformatory saved the town of Jeffersonville from floodingand the unique response of the grateful residents  
The Villain Who Stole the Flood (December 9, 2012) How the 1913 flood in Dayton transformed NCR president John H. Patterson—a convicted felon—into a national hero  
An Unnecessary Tragedy: The Johnstown Flood (May 1, 2014) Describing three potentially fatal dam myths that still persist today; by guest author Kenneth E. Smith, P.E.

Resources, references,and centennial commemorations
Great Easter 1913 Disaster Library (November 1, 2016) Here in one place is an annotated bibliography of some three dozen modern books and half a dozen documentary films on the Great Easter 1913 natural disaster, which originally appeared in four separate posts over the previous four years 
Grisly Souvenirs (November 8, 2015) Dozens of souvenir booklets of photographs of death and destruction in individual cites sold tens of thousands of copies.  
Centennial Update: April through December (April 13, 2013)
Centennial Month! Events Update (March 3, 2013) 
Profiting from Pain (February 24, 2013) pulls back the veil on the dodgy instant-books industry in 1913 and its money-grubbing authors, who wrote under multiple confusing titles and pseudonyms, flagrantly violating copyright law to produce lurid subscription volumes that to this day keep cropping up and being cited as if they were authoritative references
Five 1913 instant disaster books, all plagiarizing other people's prose, were published and selling while the flood crest was still roaring down the Mississippi River. [Credit: Trudy E. Bell]

1913 Great Easter Disaster Centennial Update (February 2, 2013)  
Happy 1913 Centennial Year! (January 6, 2013) 

Reader Talk-Back (June 1, 2016)  Readers ask about the role of Gorge Dam in saving Akron during the 1913 flood, a mystery medal of honor, a great grandfather in Indianapolis who was a flood hero, and more. Some queries stump me—does another reader know?
Inch square medal from 1913 apparently awarded to Elijah Kirby, possibly for heroism during the 1913 flood. Does any reader have any idea about what organization struck and awarded the medals? Credit: Christy K.V.

Forget at Your Own Peril (April 3, 2013) Why is such an enormous disaster forgotten?  
“An Epidemic of Disasters” (November 16, 2012) Introduction and mission for this research blog  

I wish you a happy and healthy New Year! Thank you so much for your readership (and your patience with irregular postings during the move of my office and household). Watch for new research installments to be posted the first of each month throughout 2017! I welcome hearing your feedback: please e-mail me!

© 2017 Trudy E. Bell

Next time: Desperate Medicine

Bell, Trudy E., The Great Dayton Flood of 1913, Arcadia Publishing, 2008. Picture book of nearly 200 images of the flood in Dayton, rescue efforts, recovery, and the construction of the Miami Conservancy District dry dams for flood control, including several pictures of Cox. (Author’s shameless marketing plug: Copies are available directly from me for the cover price of $21.99 plus $4.00 shipping, complete with inscription of your choice; for details, e-mail me), or order from the publisher.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Great Easter 1913 Disaster Library

As a gift on the fourth anniversary of this research blog, here in one place is a library of some three dozen books and half a dozen documentary films on the nation's most widespread natural disaster beginning Easter weekend 1913.

Part of the purpose of this research blog “'Our National Calamity': The Great Easter 1913 Flood” (ONC) since its creation in November 2012 is to provide a lasting, comprehensive guide to resources published about the March 1913 storm system, tornadoes and flooding; the casualties and devastation; and the societal consequences, broadly interpreted. As a fourth anniversary gift, here in one place is a master collation of all the books and documentary films highlighted in half a dozen separate installments since the centennial in 2013.

Each entry below gives full bibliographical information in alphabetical order by author or title. In the case of books not widely available in retail outlets, ordering information is also included (if available). As the books range from scholarly to fictionalized popular accounts to children’s books to historical novels, the brief descriptions are intended to provide succinct information about each work’s intention, scope, audience, and approach. With a few exceptions, I was able to obtain review copies or PDFs. Please contact me with additions or updates.

Nonfiction books since 2000

Bambakidis, Elli, and Harriet Foley (editors). 1913—The 1913 Flood in Franklin, Ohio: A Guide. Franklin Area Historical Society, P. O. Box 345, Franklin, OH 45005-0345. 2013. [Title on title page reads 1913 Flood of the Great Miami River: A Guide to Resources on the Flood of 1913 Available at the Franklin Area Historical Society.] No ISBN. xiv. 129 pages. Appendices. Bibliography. Index. Softbound or hardbound.

Principally a detailed guide to the FAHS collection of some 8,000 items, this book is richly illustrated with photographic images and captions on uncoated paper, pre-flood history of the Franklin area, and a historical sketch that puts the Franklin-area flood in statewide context. Copies are available from FAHS and the Franklin-Springboro Public Library, or via mail order. Price of $20.00 (softbound) or $35.00 (hardbound) includes Ohio sales tax; mail orders should also include $4.00 for shipping and handling. Payment is by cash or checks payable to the Franklin Area Historical Society (FAHS); telephone (FAHS Museum is voicemail only) is (937) 746-8295.

Bambakidis, Elli (editor). 1913: Preserving the Memories of Dayton’s Great Flood. Proceedings of the Symposium [October 22, 2002] sponsored by Dayton Metro Library, Ohio Humanities Council, Miami Conservancy District, Ohio Preservation Council and Beavercreek Women’s League. With a Guide to Resources on the Flood of 1913. Dayton Metro Library, 215 East Third Street, Dayton, OH 45402-2103. 2004. ISBN 0-9707679-1-9. xv. 128 pages. Appendices. Bibliographies (one for print materials, one for websites). Index. Softbound. 

Richly illustrated with more than 125 photographs on coated paper, this book includes the full text of five major papers presented at the symposium (especially thought-provoking is the lead essay “Where History Comes From: The Dayton Flood and Why We Remember,” by Una M. Cadegan, University of Dayton). Despite being only nine years old, the book may be available primarily in libraries; call Dayton Metro for more information.

Bell, Trudy E. The Great Dayton Flood of 1913. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-5179-1. 2008. 128 pages. Bibliography. Softbound. 

Part of Arcadia’s Images of America series, this picture book features nearly 200 images from the Dayton Metro Library, the Miami Conservancy District, and the NCR Archives at Dayton History, on coated paper with extended captions telling the story of the flood in Dayton, rescue efforts, recovery, and the construction of the Miami Conservancy District dry dams for flood control. As per Arcadia’s usual pattern for its local histories, the book is widely available in the Dayton area at bookstores, museums, and even local Walgreen's, but not necessarily in more distant bookstores. Copies also can be ordered through Arcadia or directly from the author (with inscription of your choice) for the cover price of $21.99 each (including Ohio sales tax) plus an additional $4.00 shipping and handling. For more information, contact

Blount, Jim. Flood: Butler County’s Greatest Weather Disaster—March 1913. Past/Present Press, Hamilton! Ohio. 2002. No ISBN. 68 pages. Saddlestitched. 

More than 70 photos and maps on uncoated paper of the 1913 flood of the Great Miami River in the Hamilton and Middletown areas of Ohio was compiled by Hamilton’s historian and retired newspaper journalist. Hamilton, about a third the size of Dayton in 1913 (about 35,000 citizens compared to about 125,000) suffered far more deaths for the size of its population than did Dayton; although body counts were less than 100, official estimates acknowledge the real casualties likely topped 150, and Blount’s research suggested it may have topped 200. Chapters written and laid out like newspaper articles. No bibliography or index, but detailed table of contents. Available for $12.50 from Books in Shandon, 4795 Cincinnati-Brookville Road,  P.O. Box 8, Shandon, OH 45063, phone 513-738-2962 or 513-523-4005; contact for information on shipping.

Brown, Tom, Warning! High Water Ahead: A Photographic History of the Great 1913 Flood at Zanesville, Ohio. Muskingum County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, November 2013. Only 350 copies printed. $25.00 plus $5.00 shipping; MCCOGS; Post Office Box 2427; Zanesville, OH 43702-2427; (740) 453-0391 ext.139. I was unable to locate an image of the cover and have not seen a copy of the book.

Conrad, Thelma (compiler and editor). Rain and River: Remembering the Flood of 1913, Logansport, Indiana. Cass County Historical Society, 1004 East Market Street, Logansport, IN 46947. 2013. ii. 88 pages. Hardbound.

Rich photographic record of the overflowing of the Wabash River and flooding of Logansport, Indiana, as documented principally by professional photographers from four photographic studios in the city in 1913. The book, compiled and edited by the CCHS’s Executive Director, features more than 160 images—the best of the CCHS’s collection of postcards and photographs—printed on coated paper with extended captions. Also included are notes and observations of observers trapped in buildings, quotes from newspapers, and excerpts of letters. No bibliography or index. Sold at the Cass County Historical Society; for ordering the book by mail ($25 per copy plus $5 for shipping and handling), contact the author at the society at 574-753-3866 or e mail

Dalton, Curt, Through Flood, Through Fire: Personal Stories from Survivors of the Dayton Flood of 1913. Oregon Printing. Dayton, OH. 2012. 182 pages. Appendices. Bibliography. Index. 

Full verbatim contents of letters, speeches, other 1913 documents during and after the 1913 flood, prefaced by introductory narrative, plus over 100 stunning photographs from the NCR Archives of Dayton History, the Dayton Daily News, and other sources. Reprint of a book originally published in 2001. Although the entire text is online, the photographs make it eminently worth acquiring a physical printed copy. $24.95; available from Carillon Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd, Dayton, OH 45409; call 937-293-2841 and ask for the gift shop for information about shipping.

Dalton, Curt. Water, Water Everywhere… The History of the Miami Valley Flood of 1913. Children’s Historical Publishing, 2626 Delanie Avenue, Dayton OH 45419, (937)-643-0502. 2013. 32 pages. No ISBN.  Saddlestitched. 

Laid out rather like an Arcadia book although larger in format, it is written at a level accessible to grade-school children without talking down to them. Through the dramatic photographs, reading, and a few activities, children can learn social studies history and a little engineering. Sold at Dayton Art Institute and Carillon Park. For ordering (retail $8.00 each plus $3.35 shipping, although special discounts are available for teachers and classrooms), contact the publisher at

Gignilliat, Lt. Col. Leigh R., Capt. Robert Rossow, and Cdt. Elliott White Springs. Logansport—The Flood, March 1913. Assembled and edited by Robert B. D. Hartman.  Culver Academies. No publication date. 57 pages. The Second Century Series. 

This is a centennial reprint of a book that was self-published by the school in 1994 (in celebration of Culver's centennial). It is, with the exception of the introduction by Culver historian Bob Hartman, three first-hand accounts of the dramatic rescue of more than 1,000 citizens of Logansport, Indiana, by a group of cadets and faculty of the Culver Military Academy (as it was then called). The story is recounted by then-superintendent Col. L.R. Gignilliat, by Black Horse Troop director (and war veteran, yarn-spinner and adventurer) Col. Robert Rossow, and by cadet Elliot White Springs, who went on to fame and fortune as a WWI veteran and textile magnate, in addition to a brief excerpt from a letter by a Logansport woman. It has a handful of photos.$13.95. Available at the Culver Military Academy campus bookstore or can be ordered online.

Grismer, Stephen C. Drenched Uniforms and Battered Badges: How Dayton Police Emerged from the 1913 Flood. Dayton, OH: Dayton Police History Foundation, Inc. 2013. Footnotes.

“By any measure, the Dayton police force was undermanned, under-equipped and, after March 24, 1913, underwater and overwhelmed,” writes the author, himself a 25+year retired sergeant in the Dayton Police Force, and thus alert to details of significance that might escape an outside historian. This slim book (110 pages) features more than 70 photographs, including images (some published for the first time) of 19 of the two dozen police officers who stuck by their posts, maintained order, and rescued flood victims, especially during the first four days before 2,400 Ohio National Guard troops arrived in Dayton on Friday, March 28. It is unusual (and exemplary) among local histories in also setting context (Part 1, Police Readiness), tracing consequences (Epilogue, 1913–1922), and documenting statements and quotes with more than 120 end notes. A review of the book in the Dayton Daily News appears here.

Hinds, Conrade C. Columbus and the Great Flood of 1913: The Disaster that Reshaped the Ohio Valley. Charleston, SC: The History Press. 2013.

Despite its title, this book is less a local history of the flood in Columbus (which gets only two dedicated chapters out of the book’s 12) than it is an overview of floods in general and other unrelated weather disasters (including the “white hurricane” in the Great Lakes of November 1913), the book also describes flooding in Dayton in some detail, and highlights it in Chillicothe, Zanesville, Ohio and Wheeling, West Virginia. It is unusual in briefly wondering whether the eruption of the volcano Novarupta in Alaska in 1912 might have influenced the storm system (something actually that a few people have wondered for years, including myself since 2006). The book ends with a brief account of the Miami Conservancy District and the earthworks protecting Dayton, a timeline of significant historical events in 1912 and 1913, a brief bibliography, and an index.

Huey, Lois Miner, Floodwaters and Flames: The 1913 Disaster in Dayton, Ohio, by (Minneapolis: Millbrook Press 2016; hardback library binding). 

Written for grades 4 through 8, the 56-page book is striking for its large square format (10 x 10 inches) and dramatic layout, with big photographs atop a background of pages from Dayton newspapers. The narrative follows the stories of half a dozen people from various walks of life throughout the three worst days of the flood (Tuesday, March 25 through Thursday, March 27, 1913): NCR's savior John H. Patterson and Bell Telephone's John Bell, aircraft pioneers brother and sister Orville and Katharine Wright, librarian Mary Althoff, rescuer southpaw Dayton Marcos pitcher Bill Sloan, 18-year-old store clerk Clarence Mauch, and coal dealer Andrew Fox and his wife Finette, who had long feared the possibility of a major flood. The two last chapters acknowledge the calamity's wider geographical area and aftermath. A preview of the book is on Google.

Lenihan, Brian D., Ph.D. 1913 to 2013 in 13 miles: The Hamilton, Ohio, 1913 Flood Then and Now. Bellevue, KY:  MicroPress Books. 2015. Large-format (8.5 x 11 inches), 196 pages. Bibliography. Index. Lavishly illustrated. 

Taking the unique approach of being a step-by-step walking tour for a 13-mile loop through Hamilton, its hundreds of images pair each location with how it looked during or immediately after the flood with how it looks today. Hamilton has one of the largest collections of 1913 flood photos in the Miami Valley, and Lenihan meticulously took many of the modern images from as close to the same vantage point as possible, shooting most of the modern images in 2013 during the flood's centennial. (Hamilton also had what was probably the largest centennial commemoration of the 1913 disaster in any state, with multiple talks, tours, and other events scheduled over six weeks - see the Michael J. Colligan video archive and website). 

Miami Conservancy District, The. A Flood of Memories. One Hundred Years After the Flood: Images from 1913 and Today. The Miami Conservancy District. 2013. ISBN 978-0-615-75860-2. 128 pages. Hardbound. 

Colorful coffee-table picture book depicts the dramatic 1913 flood side-by-side with images of the same areas today captured by photographer Andy Snow. Piqua, Troy, Dayton, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Franklin, Middletown, and Hamilton are all included. Each pair of images has brief descriptive text, but the bulk of every page is reserved for the striking contrasts between devastation in 1913 and the safety and vibrancy these communities enjoy now. $22.95 from the Dayton Art Institute Museum Store, Carillon Historical Park’s Gift Shop, and the Butler County Historical Society.

 Mihelich, Dennis, Ribbon of Destruction: The 1913 Douglas County Tornado on Easter Sunday and the Jewish Holiday of Purim , Douglas County Historical Society and Nebraska Jewish Historical Society. 48 pages.

Although better known as the 1913 Omaha Tornado, the title accurately clarifies that the path of destruction cut a wide swath for tens of miles through Nebraska. It provides unique insights into the effects of the tornado on the Jewish and Black communitieis. Not for sale; complimentary with membership in the Douglas County Historical Society.

Miller, Frank. The Great Dayton Flood of 1913. 100th Anniversary Edition 1913–2013. Dayton, OH: Mill-Cliff Books and Graphics. 2013.

This 60-page large-format print-on-demand booklet is based on Dayton: Being a Story of the Great Flood as Seen from the Delco Factory, a key eyewitness history of the flood originally published in April 1913. Not a photographic reproduction of the original booklet, the 2013 type is completely reset. Notable is the quality of the photographs—much better than the lithographed original—because the compiler Miller came into possession of a trove of original photographs several decades ago, and printed the images from those. Also included is a redone version of a 1949 history of Delco called The Spark of Genius, which includes photos of the flood, plus many other images from other sources.

O’Gorman, John W. Impact of the Great 1913 Flood on Miamisburg, Ohio. Miamisburg Historical Society. 2012. (vi) 106 pages. 40 photographs. Bibliography. 

The author writes: “As the title indicates, it deals with Miamisburg, as I found that the Miamisburg story was overlooked in the general  reporting of the day.” $15.00 including tax, plus postage and handling (call for information). Make checks out to Miamisburg Historical Society and send to MHS at 4 North Main Street, Miamisburg, OH 45342, Phone: (937) 859-5000, e-mail:

Sing, Travis. Omaha’s Easter Tornado of 1913.  Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-3184-7. 2003. 128 pages. Bibliography. Softbound. 

Part of Arcadia’s Images of America series, this picture book features some 200 images from various historical archives in Omaha, Nebraska, on coated paper. (Sing’s technique of telling the gripping story of the Great Easter Omaha Tornado and its destruction in various communities through extended captions, including rescue efforts, relief, and recovery, inspired my own approach for my own Arcadia book on the 1913 flood in Dayton.) As per Arcadia’s usual pattern for its local histories, Sing’s book is widely available in the Omaha area at bookstores, museums, and historical societies, but not necessarily in more distant bookstores. Copies also can be ordered ($21.99 cover price) through Arcadia

Swickard, Lisa. Calamity and Courage: Tiffin’s Battle During Ohio’s Deadly 1913 Flood. Melmore, OH: Virgin Alley Press, 2010. 290 pages. Appendices. Index. Softcover. 248 photographs.

This book is one of the notable few focused on the 1913 flood in northern Ohio, 200 miles away from the Miami Valley and the Dayton area. Tiffin, on the Sandusky River, was swept by a wall of water that claimed 19 lives. Inspired at first by recollections of grandparents and other relatives, the author—a lifelong Tiffin residentrelies heavily on local newspaper accounts, oral history interviews conducted  in 1988 for the 75th anniversary of the flood, and resources at the Seneca County Museum. See this YouTube video about the book. $35.00 - order directly from Virgin Alley Press, 40 West Market Street #2, Tiffin, OH 44883.

Trostel, Scott D. And Through the Black Night of Terror: The 1913 Flood in the Northern Miami Valley. Cam-Tech Publishing, 4890 East Miami-Shelby Road, Fletcher, OH 45326-9766. ISBN 978-0-925436-69-6. 2012. 188 pages. Bibliography. Index. Softcover. 

Recounts the 1913 flood in the five northern Miami Valley counties of Champaign, Darke, Logan, Miami, and Shelby, where 65 people perished in the angry waters, including in the towns of Sidney, Piqua, and Troy. Includes more than 100 illustrations and maps on uncoated stock, plus lists of fatalities. $34.95; book can be ordered online.

Trostel, Scott D. Letters From the Attic: Stories from the victims of the 1913 flood in western Ohio. Cam-Tech Publishing, 4890 East Miami-Shelby Road, Fletcher, OH 45326-9766 Cam-Tech Publishing. ISBN 978-0-925436-73-3. 2013. 128 pages. Soft cover.  

Recounts the 1913 flood in Miami Valley from Sidney (north of Dayton) to Hamilton (south of Dayton) in the words of the flood survivors themselves in letters. Have not seen the actual book. The author writes: “All the letters came from newspapers where the originals had been submitted for reprint by persons to whom they were originally addressed in 1913, nothing out of any historical society or archive, that stuff had all been reprinted several times over the years and I wanted fresh materials, so I went hunting for it. 20 photos and illustrations.” $18.95; book can be ordered online.

Trostel, Scott D. Railroads of Western Ohio in the 1913 Flood (96 pages; ISBN 978-0-925436-74-0; $23.95 + $3.50 shipping, Cam-Tech Publishing, 4890 E. Miami-Shelby Rd., Fletcher, OH 45326-9766)

This large-format book is the third of Trostel’s large-format local histories of the 1913 flood in the northern Miami Valley. Information about all three appears on Trostel’s website. Trostel also gives talks around southwestern Ohio; check his website periodically for announcements.

Troy Historical Society. Troy and the Great Flood of 1913. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-9059-2. 2012. 128 pages. Bibliography. Index. Softbound. 

Part of Arcadia’s Images of America series, this picture book features some 200 images on coated paper from various historical archives in Troy, Ohio, north of Dayton. Troy’s story, including the loss of 15 lives directly to drowning and countless others from injury and disease, has largely been overshadowed by the publicity about Dayton at the time. But for the U.S. bicentennial in 1976, the Troy History Committee interviewed Troy flood survivors and preserved the interviews on audio tape, which form the basis of stories told in this book of disaster and rebuilding. As per Arcadia’s usual pattern for its local histories, the book is widely available in the upper Miami Valley area north of Dayton, but not necessarily in more distant bookstores. Copies also can be ordered ($21.99 cover price) through Arcadia.

Williams, Geoff. Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America’s Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed it Forever. Pegasus. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60598-404-9. ix. 356 pages. Index. Hardcover. 

Despite the sweeping and definitive-sounding subtitle, the first 310 pages—all the main chapters totaling more than 90 percent of the book—focus just on flood week mainly in the Midwest from Easter Sunday, March 23 through Saturday, March 29. Clearly inspired by Allan W. Eckert's classic A Time of Terror (see below), it is a fictionalized moment-by-moment recounting of personal experiences primarily from flood victims as gleaned from newspaper accounts, heavily focused on Ohio. A 28-page epilogue is a timeline of the subsequent century 1913-2011, briefly highlighting aspects of the flood’s destruction down the Mississippi and noting what happened in later decades to the various people the author had introduced earlier in the book. No bibliography, but a final acknowledgments section lists the newspapers read and some librarians and other sources consulted. $28.95. Available at bookstores.

Twentieth-century books

Our National Calamity; Horrors of Tornado, Flood and Fire; America's Greatest Flood and Cyclone Calamity; Tragic Story of America's Greatest Disaster; all these and others (even sometimes the same book published under a different title) were “instant books” published in 1913—some as early as April while the flood was still in progressthat keep cropping up all over the internet and in second-hand bookstores. Often cited as if they were authoritative references, they actually were thinly disguised direct steals of local newspaper accounts without credit given. A descriptive analysis of the half-dozen century-old tomes is “Profiting from Pain” (ONC March 3,2013). It is a detailed post that pulls back the veil on the dodgy instant-books industry and its money-grubbing authors, who wrote under multiple confusing titles and pseudonyms (Frederick E. Drinker, Logan Marshall, Marshall Everett [who was really Henry Neil], and Thomas H. Russell [who also wrote under Thomas Herbert among other names]), likely to avoid lawsuits under the new Federal copyright act.

Becker, Carl M., and Patrick B. Nolan. Keeping the Promise: A Pictorial History of the Miami Conservancy District. Landfall Press. Dayton, OH. 1988. ISBN 0-913428-65-5 clothbound; 0-913428-66-2 paperback. 208 pages. Appendices. 

Several hundred photographs from the collections of Wright State University, the Miami Conservancy District, and other archives that depict the flooding around the Miami Valley in Ohio, including Piqua and Troy and rural areas as well as in Dayton and Hamilton, and then document the construction of the Miami Conservation District dry dams. Published in time for the 75th anniversary of the 1913 flood. You may get lucky and find a copy second-hand.

Eckert, Allan W. A Time of Terror: The Great Dayton Flood. Landfall Press. Dayton, OH. 1981 (a reprint of the original published by Little, Brown, & Co. in 1965, shortly after the 50th anniversary of the flood) ISBN 0-913428-02-7.  341 pages. (There may have also been a 1997 reprint.)

Fictionalized account of the 1913 flood in Dayton that has proven highly influential in keeping the memory alive (the musical stage play 1913 performed most recently in January-February 2013 at Wright State University is based on the book). No bibliography or footnotes, but a brief acknowledgment section about sources. Second-hand copies are available (at sometimes dismayingly high prices), but the entire text of the book is available online.

This is How Dayton Looked After The Great 1913 Flood. Dayton, OH: Landfall Press, Inc. 1973. 

This slim 48-page booklet of photographs was a commemorative publication on the sixtieth anniversary of the flood in March 1973. What is interesting historically is that the booklet’s back cover copy clearly demonstrates how public memory is already disconnecting and fading about the widespread extent of the disaster, noting that “Dayton, Ohio, suffered the second worst natural disaster (after San Francisco) ever to befall an American City.” NOT NOTED OR CREDITED anywhere is the fact that this four-decade-old booklet was actually a reprint of a commemorative photographic booklet by Clarence B. Greene called Great 1913 Flood: Dayton, Ohio published in 1913 by the Specialty Photograph Co. Shame on Landfall (and hurray for the internet). 

Historical Novels

Daugherty, Alan. THE Flood: A Bluffton History Novel. Self-published. 2012.

This 254-page novel about a mistaken identity of someone who robbed a bank is set in Wells County, Indiana, primarily during flood week from the windstorm of Good Friday, March 21, 1913 through the following Friday. The five main characters are fictional, although many real people are referenced and the book includes several dozen actual historical photographs (some with captions). In real life, Bluffton was hard hit, and some tidbits and quotations from historical sources do appear in the novel. But as the author notes in the preface, “This story intentionally gathered into a single location as much history as possible, but placed it in a fun, readable experience rather than repeating newspaper accounts or textbook style documentations.” Includes a bibliography and an index of names.

Friermood, Elisabeth Hamilton. Promises in the Attic. Landfall Press. Dayton, OH. 1960. My copy says reprinted 1982 and 1986, but online I’ve also seen the date 1975. One edition may have been published by Doubleday & Co. 226 pages. 

A teen historical novel about a 17-year-old high-school senior girl who wants to be a writer, and gets her first opportunities at reporting and writing during the 1913 flood in Dayton. The fictional character interacts with real individuals (e.g., NCR president John H. Patterson), and the flood is described from the viewpoint of its happening to her and her family. The portion of the book concerned with the flood begins around page 90. Turns up second-hand.

Kennedy, Kathy Toerner, Flood of Courage: A 1913 Experience. KY: MicroPress Books, 2013. (6 x 9 inches, 208 pages, some photos at the end) . 

A historical novel based on the actual experiences of the author's mother (13 at the time of the flood) and grandparents.As the author notes, the book should not be treated as historical fact (I especially wondered about the recounted meteorology). The flood story begins around page 60, and by the next chapter is truly gripping. Especially revealing were the perspectives of people who experienced the flood from being trapped inside a house, including opening the windows to let in the floodwaters to try to prevent the tonnage of water from shifting the house off its foundations, hearing and seeing walls crack, and quaking with terror when crossing on hands and knees a door laid between windows of neighboring houses to get to a house with third story (reminiscent of the recollections of people who tightrope-walked to safety along telephone wires, see "High Wire Horror"). All these harrowing details were based on truth, as revealed in the four-page written account from the author's mother, included at the end of the novel.

Historian and writing consultant Anne Wainscott may be working on a historical novel Torrential about the 1913 flood in Dayton, based in part on family stories she had heard since childhood. Meantime, in her November 7, 2013, blog installment “Weather Storyteller Unleashes Lessons of Past Storm Disasters,” Wainscott profiled the work of Cleveland National Weather Service hydrologist Sarah Jamison in sleuthing the origins of the monumental 1913 storm system (see also this blog "Be Very Afraid..." about Jamison's research).

Documentary films and videos

Devil Clouds: Tornadoes Strike Nebraska. The 1913 Easter Tornadoes. NET – Nebraska Public Television. 2013. Running time 56:55 minutes. 

Online description: “Developed in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the event (which took place on March 23, 1913), it’s a story full of heroes and colorful characters; a story of tragedy, but also recovery and resolve; and the story of a city and state in transition. It’s a story so well documented visually that it offers an intriguing glimpse into the disaster, and the lives of 1913 Nebraskans in places like Omaha, Ralston, Yutan and Otoe (called Berlin at the time).” Entire documentary can be viewed online. Fabulous additional resources—including videos about the Berlin and Yutan tornadoes in the same tornado family—appear online (scroll down to section "Related Media" at right).

Goodbye, The Levee Has Broken: The Story of the Great Dayton Flood. ThinkTV - Greater Dayton Public Television. Produced in partnership with the Montgomery County Historical Society. 2010. Running time 54:50 minutes. 

Jacket copy: “Recounts the day-by-day events of the flood, as experienced by its victims and survivors. Their harrowing stories, taken from diaries, letters, and newspaper articles, are brought to life through drawings, film footage, and rarely-seen archival photographs. Emmy-award-winning producer Shawn Brady bring these elements together for the first time in an emotionally-charged recreation of the extraordinary event that once held an entire nation spellbound.” Entire documentary can be viewed online.

The 1913 Flood: Shadow Over the Miami Valley features more than 500 flood photos from half a dozen towns around the Miami River watershed in southwestern Ohio, along with moving picture clips of the flood in progress from local historical societies and quotations from letters written at the time. Produced by Middletown, Ohio, filmmaker and historian Sam Ashworth, the 30-minute documentary premiered April 26, 2013 as part of the Michael J.Colligan 1913 flood history project in Hamilton, Ohio. Background about it appears at “New video tells the story of the Great Flood.” The documentary itself does not appear to be available online, but a DVD is available from the Dayton Metro Library

The 1913 Flood in Morgan County, Ohio is a 26-minute documentary written and produced by Ohio University professor Rick Shriver focusing on the 1913 flood in the Muskingum River watershed in southeastern Ohio, and the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District constructed in the 1930s. An overview describing how century-old photographs were enhanced is here. The documentary premiered on March 21 with a screening at the Opera House in McConnelsville.

The Great 1913 Flood in Greater Lafayette, Indiana is a 35-minute slide show assembled and narrated by Bob Verplank, based on talks he has presented at Rotary Clubs and libraries around northwestern Indiana. The full-length version does not appear to be available online, but some parts of it were captured in a 3:30-minute short The ‘Great Flood’ of 1913 by David Smith of the Lafayette Journal-Courier (see also the paper’s March 19 article and March 23 article and video on high-water marks of damages and deaths). Copies can be ordered directly from Verplank for $15.00: make the check out to Rotary Back Pack Fund. For details, contact Verplank.
The Omaha Easter Tornado is a 4:45-minute short that brings to light a tragic song written by Hans B. Parkinson in 1913 after the fatal twister—still Nebraska’s deadliest—had killed so many. Two talented Nebraska Wesleyan University music students—pianist Zach Weir (junior) and soloist Cadie Jochum (senior)—perform the piece. The short is a web extra to the 1-hour Nebraska NET public television documentary Devil Clouds: Tornadoes Strike Nebraska, which originally aired in March 2013.

When Every River Turned Against Us: Lessons from the Great 1913 Flood is a 30-minute documentary film about the 1913 flood in Indiana that captured a 2014 regional Emmy Award. A 1913 flood still photo from his documentary even leads the article “WFYI Earns Nine Regional Emmys,” which includes a link to the full movie online. It features actual 1913 moving picture footage of the flood itself around Indiana, as well as modern interviews both about the historic disaster and about current flood mitigation and preparedness. It first screened before a live audience on November 8, 2013, and premiered on WFYI Public TV on Thursday, November 21. Produced by Emmy Award-winning TV producer Gary Harrison at WFYI Public TV in Indianapolis, it was created in partnership with the Indiana Silver Jackets emergency readiness coalition and the Polis Center at IUPUI, with assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Geological Survey, NOAA, National Weather Service, and the Indiana Department of Resources.  A 3-minute trailer for the film appears here. A review of the film appears on page 2A of the November 19, 2013 issue of the Berne Shopping News.

Film footage shot in March 1913 for showing in movie theatres—likely the first time a natural disaster was caught on motion picture film while the catastrophe was still in progress—is discussed inScreening Disaster” (ONC March 1, 2014). That post also includes links to YouTube and other sites that have preserved some of this historic footage for public viewing.

A great number of additional modern-day videos can be found on YouTube just by searching on “1913 flood” or “1913 tornado.” For example, The Greatest Natural Disaster in Ohio History: The Flood of 1913 is a 4:20-minute short told mostly through historic photographs and produced in 2012 by the U.S. Geological Survey. It also describes how today the USGS uses data collected from networks of stream gauges to monitor river levels and warn the public. 
Video slide show of 1913 flood devastation in Hamilton, Ohio is reminiscent of footage after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake

And in case you haven't seen enough of splintered Hamilton, check out Historic Flood Hamilton, Ohio 1913 Disaster, a centennial slide show of postcards uploaded in September 2013. Seeing the images one right after another in just a few minutes silently conveys the full power and force of torrential waters, which indeed—as noted by Ohio Governor James M. Coxleft Hamilton looking like San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.

Fast reference index to ONC
Over the past four years since November 2012, fully 53 installments—many of them full-length heavily documented research articles—have been posted to this research blog ONC. That’s nearly the equivalent of an entire book. A good many of them represent in-depth original analysis by both myself and others, based on new primary sources. An updated searchable running list in Word in reverse chronological order is posted every month at the top left link on the 1913 flood page of my website.
For those who like stats: ONC has garnered over 85,000 lifetime views, averaging several thousand per month.

As always, contact me at if I have overlooked a resource or if any information needs updating. Happy reading and viewing! 

Next time: Desperate Medicine

©2016 Trudy E. Bell. For permission to reprint or use, contact Trudy E. Bell at