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RILEY COUNTY RAMBLINGS – 100 YEARS AGO 

From the Manhattan Republic
June 9, 1908:
 

The Story of the Flood
How the Water Came Up and Where it Came From  -- Damage in Country Not Yet Known.
   
The Blue river has established a new high water record, higher by several inches than it was in the great flood of 1903.  The valley of the Blue, the valley of the Kaw below Manhattan, and parts of the valley above Manhattan have again been damaged by flood water.  In these valleys the farmers have had to leave their homes, their crops have been largely destroyed, their homes partially filled with water, and while few if any houses have been moved, there is fear in the hearts of many that when the water subsides it will reveal that the soil of the farm has been carried away and the land practically ruined for a period of years.
   
The most serious question of the present is “Where is the Blue river?” It is not sending its flood water by way of Manhattan but has cut across by the Dempsey place east of town and the main current with the drift has been going straight across to the Kansas.  It is a question if it has not cut out a new channel for itself across that neck of land, and if so, how serious will be the loss to the farms through which it passes?
    For the last ten days there have been heavy rains, cloud bursts, tornadoes and storms of various kinds throughout the Kaw watershed.  There has been high water and reports of more to follow for some days.  The town of Frankfort in Marshall county went under three or four feet of water.  Other towns in Nebraska suffered.  Thursday the Blue river began rising rapidly.  Friday morning it passed the high mark of the previous week.  by noon it was going across the road east of the bridge.  By afternoon it was reported at the 16 foot stage.  Saturday morning it was still rising and was sending water across by Dempsey’s.  It rose steadily all day and by night the water in the vicinity of Fielding’s farm was within five feet of the 1903 stage.  Farmers were moving all day all up and down the Blue.
   
Saturday evening the strain commenced in town.  The first reports were encouraging.  They were that both rivers were falling.  About ten o’clock the wire told a different story.  The Blue was rising three inches an hour at Garrison.  Heavy rains in all directions.  From a rise of from one to two inches an hour, the Blue raised thirty inches from eleven o’clock Saturday night to seven o’clock Sunday morning and continued to raise at three and one-half inches an hour until ten o’clock.  About four or five o’clock people began to get busy moving.  The mills and elevators, Perry Bros. and Higinbotham, had taken the precaution to have box cars sent out convenient for loading and some of them loaded out Saturday.  The water began to come up on Poyntz avenue early Sunday morning.  Soon every dray and wagon in town was busy.  Water was creeping up nearly every street and the household goods went with it.  Scores of pianos were moved.  Cellars were emptied of their contents and the upper stories filled.  Merchants on the avenue were sending out load after load of goods to various storage places.  And the water kept slowly advancing, cellars began to fill.  The fine horses from livery barns had been sent out before daylight.  Houghton said that it was a good livery day as he had out every rig and every horse in his barn.
    Bardwell’s sent out loads of implements and put their buggies up on scaffolding.  Langdon moved his linotype to the Republic office.  Engel moved his stock to the Cooper building.  Holt had a small army of men hauling his wholesale supplies.  Every merchant in town was getting ready for high water and all goods were brought from cellars and placed on tables.
    And still the water came slowly up.  By afternoon boats were up to the First National bank and various streets in town looked like the pictures of Venice.  By five o’clock in the water reached its maximum stage of 24 feet, 8 ½ inches against 29 feet in 1903.
    By this time the town had pretty well moved.  The high water could have come and it would have found the people prepared.
   
The heavy rain of the night before made a raging torrent of the Wild Cat creek and sent it higher than ever before.  It sent its flood waters down the old channel of the Kaw, threatened the bridge to Hunter’s Island, cut off the Island and covered a great many acres of land.  It added materially to the raise of the Kaw at Manhattan.
    Two things contributed to help the situation here.  One was that the Kaw did not raise within from ten to fifteen feet of its former mark and scarcely left its banks above the Ashland bridge, and the other was that the Blue sent its water straight across and while the land three miles east of town showed more water than in 1903, the water did not come this way.

    (Note:  The channel of the Blue River was changed by this flood to essentially its present 2008 location.  Pottawatomie County voted to build a new bridge over the Blue in late June 1908.)

 
From the Manhattan Republic
June 12, 1908:

 
Happenings on the Hill
Y.M.C.A. Building to Be Dedicated in Fall – Other College News.
   
The Student’s Co-operative association met Monday and decided to begin building their new building at once.  It will be built of brick or concrete blocks and will stand at Manhattan avenue and Moro street.


    
(Note:  The new building built by the Student’s Co-operative Association now houses the Dusty Bookshelf in Aggieville.  George Hopper was the contractor who built the building.)