Center for Archival Collections

Archival Chronicle

December 2002: Volume 21, Number 3

Feature: Natural Disasters in Northwest Ohio | Archival Chronicle Index | CAC Homepage

The Archival Chronicle presents a new feature--The Gallery, highlighting photographs from our collections which illustrate the topics of selected issues. Our title photograph for this issue is from the Edward Bronson Collection, documenting the effect of the March 1913 Flood on Defiance, Ohio.

Flood, 1913--Defiance, Ohio

Defiance Flood, 1913

  "Water Floods Press Rooms"

"On account of high water flooding the press room of the Crescent-News, it was impossible to print the semi-weekly today and it is possible the first issue of this week may have to be discontinued. It was impossible to operate the big Duplex newspaper press and it was necessary to print the Crescent-News today on a job press therefore the paper is only four pages and not up to its usual standard." --Defiance Crescent-News, Tuesday, March 25, 1913, page 1.

"Two Bridges Hit in City" 

"The west span of the Hopkins street river bridge went out at about ten o'clock this morning. It was struck by a barn and the span was carried down almost to the Second street bridge. Electric wires across the bridge had been cut previously... The two south spans of the State Bridge across the Maumee passed out at 4:05 Wednesday morning...A small out on the Wabash railroad between Defiance and Toledo...The B & O railroad bridge was reported to be in good condition at noon...2 P.M.--The balance of the Hopkins street bridge went out at two o'clock."--Defiance Crescent-News, Wednesday, March 26, 1913, page 1.

Defiance Flood, 1913, bridge
Defiance Flood, 1913, church

  "Rivers Break All Former Records"

"As a result of the downpour that has existed over the Maumee Valley since Sunday morning, Defiance today experienced the highest water on record, even breaking the high water record of 1884. The rains extended over the entire area of six thousand square miles drained by the Maumee River and water from swollen creeks rushed into the main streams at a volume that forced it down on the Maumee river at a rapid rate." -- Defiance Crescent-News, Tuesday, March 25, 1913, page 1.

Courthouse Square, Defiance, March 1913. 

"Water came up on Clinton street this morning as far as the Court House and boats were navigated up as far as the Court House square. All of the streets below First street are inundated and the lower East Side was covered with water up over Second street and back as far as Seneca. Traffic was shut off on the river bridges all night and morning."--Defiance Crescent-News, Wednesday, March 26, 1913, page 1.

Defiance Flood, 1913, courthouse


Defiance Flood, 1913, residences

  Flooding in residential area of Defiance (location not identified).

"On the lower East Side, the water came up to Second street and it was necessary to vacate at least thirty houses in that section of the city. In some places the water reached the second floor."--Defiance Crescent-News, Tuesday, March 25, 1913, page 1.

Rescue boat, location unknown. 

"During the early morning hours Captain DeKay, of Co. G [Ohio National Guard troops] received a call that two regiments had been ordered out to go to the Miami Valley... As it was impossible to get a train out of Defiance, Co. G was kept here and put on guard duty at the river bridges and assisting in getting people from their homes."--Defiance Crescent-News, Wednesday, March 26, 1913, page 1.

Defiance Flood, 1913
Defiance Flood, 1913, rescue boat

   Rescue boat in flooded street, location unknown.

"It is conservatively estimated that there are between 100 and 150 persons in Defiance who need relief. One man is reported as having only the suit on his back while his family has had nothing to eat for forty-eight hours. There are numerous instances of this kind." --Defiance Crescent-News, Thursday, March 27, 1913, page 1.

Flooded street corner, location unknown. 

"Many schools, churches, and public buildings on the West Side are housing large groups of refugees, who fled to them when the flood started Tuesday morning. Much illness is reported in these, though no contagious diseases have been found yet." --Defiance Crescent-News, Saturday, March 29, 1913, page 1.

Defiance Flood, 1913, street corner 

Flood, Bellevue, Ohio Summer 1937

Bellevue Flood, 1937, general view

  Flood scene, Bellevue, Ohio
Photographer: Ben J. Buyer.
Source: City of Bellevue Flood Relief Committee.

"At Norwalk, the rainfall measured 2.71 inches up to this morning, bringing the total for the month to almost 7 1/2 inches, compared to the normal rainfall of slightly more than 3 inches. Several feet of water covered motors, brine pumps and other machinery at the City Ice & Fuel plant in Sheffield street, leaving only one small unit in operation." --The Bellevue Gazette, June 21, 1937, page 1.

Flood emergency ditch, Bellevue, Ohio. 
Source: City of Bellevue Flood Relief Committee.

"Bellevue city employees acted today to speed the fall of flood waters still inundating many sections of by digging drainage canals in two sections. One canal was dug across East Main Street...from Broad Street north to High Street, and the other was made between dwellings on the south side of Main Street east to Broad Street, running in a line to...Center Street. Both cuts were made deep enough so that they will act as spillways to carry the water away more quickly... effect of the plan was immediate and officials reported the water falling at the rate of two inches an hour." --The Bellevue Gazette, July 2, 1937, page 1.

Bellevue Flood, 1937, ditch

Tornado, Genoa, Ohio, March 28, 1920

Walter Wright home near Genoa
March 28, 1920. 

"The severe storm Sunday night did a great amount of damage and caused 200 deaths in northern Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The storm passed over this county and the greatest damage was done about Genoa. Two lives were lost and a number of people were seriously injured."--Ottawa County News Democrat, April 2, 1920, page 1.

Genoa Tornado, 1920s, Walter Wright home
Genoa Tornado, 1920s, Assmusen Property

   Asmussen property
Genoa area, March 28, 1920

"More than a dozen houses were damaged in the village limits and nearly twenty houses and barns in the rural districts which were in the path of the storm... [It]came without warning, swept a path nearly one-fourth mile in width...trees were uprooted and...hurled against...buildings causing much destruction. Houses were blown from their foundations and many crushed to the ground by the force of the wind." --Ottawa County Exponent, April 3, 1920, page 1.

The Blizzard of 1978

Blizzard of 1978, student searching for car

   This BGSU student searches for his buried car.

"As the Blizzard of '78 careened out of the west and into Bowling Green early Thursday morning, January 26, 1978, the temperature dropped 28 degrees in two hours, a city record for lowest barometric pressure was set and electricity...abruptly winked out...For four days, city residents, Bowling Green State University students and thousands of Wood County residents struggled in the grip of the worst natural disaster the area had ever known."--Blizzard of '78: Snowbound in Bowling Green

Helicopters were used for emergency services.
Source: Claire Ebersole  

"Most rescue operations were implemented through the use of snowmobiles and four-wheel drive vehicles, however, when conditions were impossible for these vehicles, helicopters were utilized. Private helicopters as well as those brought in by the military were used to drop food, fuel and medicine to area communities and transport those needing medical attention. Runs included food drops... and transportation of...people ill from no heat and little food."--The Blizzard of '78, page 29.

Blizzard of 1978, helicopter
Blizzard of 1978, snow inside

  Wind gusts of up to 58 miles per hour drove snow inside apartment entrances and parked cars.
Source: BG News (right)
Gerald Cromley family (below)

Blizzard of 1978 snow in car
Blizzard of 1978 snow on trucksBlizzard of 1978 street deep in snow
Blizzard of 1978 slush in street

   "North Baltimore was one of the more fortunate communities during the blizzard as electricity was out for less than an hour...The village though had its share of road clearing problems and stranded motorists from I-75. Community members joined forces to clear roads, rescue those stranded and make emergency runs for food and medicine. On February 1st, the Army National Guard moved in with much welcomed manpower and equipment."--The Blizzard of '78, page 61.
Source: North Baltimore News

Blizzard of 1978 standing on a driftBlizzard of 1978 garage drift
Blizzard of 1978 shoveled driveway

   Blowing snow engulfed the George Hipp residence in Bowling Green, leaving drifts as high as the eaves, the garage drifted shut, and so much snow to be cleared from the walks and driveway that there was barely room to pile it in the yard.
Source: George Hipp Family

Blizzard of 1978 backpackers

   "All area schools were closed and most remained so from Thursday through the following week. Bowling Green State University [Founders Hall seen at left] did not hold classes Thursday through the following Monday. The blizzard temporarily forced two local radio stations, WFOB and WKIQ, off the air and for the first time in its history, weather conditions resulted in the Daily Sentinel-Tribune not being published Thursday, Friday or Saturday."--Blizzard of '78, page 15.

Businesses in Bowling Green had to contend with snow removal, too. Things were getting back to normal when a favorite student gathering place reopened for business.
Source: BG News

Blizzard of 1978 Dino's Pizza

THE PHOTOGRAPHS IN THIS ISSUE illustrate the devastation caused by natural disasters in Northwest Ohio.

MS 454 The Edward Bronson Photograph Collection consists of 798 photographic prints from original large format negatives produced by Bronson between 1906 and 1949 in Defiance, Ohio. A skilled amateur photographer, Bronson used a large format panorama camera to produce these photographs documenting events in the community, daily activities, and subjects of personal interest, spanning over forty years. The original negatives and a full set of contact prints are maintained at the Public Library in Defiance. Photographs from this collection which have been scanned are also linked from the collection finding aid.