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The James Zatman
experienc during Flood

1913 Logansport Flood

Fast Facts

Area flooded: The entire downtown business district from river to river from the confluence to around Pearl Street (between 4th and 5th Streets) was under water. Much of the inhabited west side and south side was also flooded, as were Berkeley and Canal streets. Biddle’s Island and Riverside Park were completely submerged.

Flood depth: Flood waters reached a depth of nine feet in some areas. Just inside the front entrance at Amelio’s & Ike’s Sports Bar (on the corner of Melbourne Avenue and 5th Street), a small plaque marks the water line at nearly six feet.

Deaths: Luther Maxwell (a streetcar conductor) and Emil Wentze (a porter at Rehwald Saloon).

Train service was shut down except for the Vandalia lines from the north of the city. Stranded Pennsylvania Railroad passengers were fed and slept at the Baptist Temple.

Telegraph lines running into Logansport were downed except for one at Vandalia Station.

Four bridges were washed away (at Third Street over the Wabash, Cicott Street, the Country Club, and Longcliff). Sixth Street Bridge over the Eel River was condemned.

Housing damages: 5,000 people were let without homes. Several thousand more remained in their homes as water rose overnight, forcing many to their upper floors or rooftops.

Rescue efforts: 1,100 people were rescued on March 26 from West Side homes by cadets sent in from Culver Military Academy. Chicago sent in 5,000 loaves of bread, South Bend sent bread and meat, and Twelve Mile sent wagons loaded with clothing and provisions. Logansport High School became a makeshift hospital and shelter.

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The storm of March 21, 1913, was as severe as any that the county has ever been subjected to. Hundreds of larger buildings were damaged, and many smaller buildings were overturned or carried away — as were wagons and buggies. Hundreds of telephones were out of service and telegraph communication with the outside world was cut off, delaying trains and putting a halt to street car traffic.

On “Good Friday,” the entire state experienced a continuous windstorm. This was followed on Easter Sunday, March 23, with a heavy rain that continued for three days, which caused the Wabash River to suddenly rise. By Tuesday morning, March 25, the river overflowed its banks. The water continued to rise for two more days until the entire business district was inundated. The Panhandle Railroad, from the mouth of the Eel to its roundhouse and shops, the Wabash Railroad from its crossing on Berkeley Street east to 17th Street, and all territory south to the Wabash River looked like one vast lake.

The south side and the west side neighborhoods of Logansport were an inland sea. The water ran across Third and Fourth Streets and down Market and Broadway with a rapid current as the buildings obstructed the water. At first wagons and drays were used to haul goods and people from the flooded stores and houses, but soon the water rose to such a depth that only boats could navigate the streets. The current was so rapid that it was dangerous even for boats as they were hurled against light and telephone poles, buildings, and trees.

Charles Henry coined the phrase “Interurban.” He was a pioneer in proposing electric transportation systems to connect cities. By 1902, three different companies sought to build lines into Logansport, but the city council only wanted one company. The three competed to see which would be the one to build lines in Logansport and Cass County. This caused the court dockets to fill and companies tried to buy out each other’s interests. Alliances were made and shifted one day to the next and promised were made and rumors circulated.

By Thursday morning, March 27th, despite heavy snowfall the previous day and night, the waters were rapidly falling. By Thursday evening, most of downtown’s stores, offices, and sidewalks were free of water. By noon Friday, the Wabash was flowing within its banks and thousands of sightseers were walking on the streets where 9 feet of water had stood the previous day.

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The Cass County Historical Socier\ty
Phone:  574 753 3866
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