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Aurora during the Flood of 1883
Christopher Wahren Fine Photographs
Courtesy of Christopher Wahren Fine Photographs (Skylight Gallery Catalog 27, October, 23, 2008 #69)
The Aurora Indiana flood of 1883 with an ink inscription "Main St." on reverse,
Original news reports:
While only two or three small dwelling houses are turned over at this writing (Wednesday evening) nearly half the houses in Aurora have water in them, varying in depth from the eave of the roof of those houses in the low lands to more than a foot on the floor of Leive Bros jewelry store, in the opera house building. Hundreds of dwelling houses will suffer more or less damages, and will require thorough renovating when the water goes down. Independent February 15, 1883.
"As we went to press last week the Ohio River was still rising here and, although it was the last day of its climbing up and up to a height beyond man's memory, the strangest thing was that on that last day, Wednesday, February 14, 1883, it rose at a rate equal to any day after it had overflown its banks. The water continued to rise during all of Wednesday and until 6 o'clock Thursday the 15th inst., at which time it came to a stand at a point thirty-three and one half inches above the mark of the famous flood of 1832."
The height of the water here as given in last week's Independent was good enough when it was written but was considerably surpassed before that issue of the paper was read. Last Thursday morning the climax was reached. The Ohio River was on the floor of our postoffice; it was five feet and eight inches deep in O. P. Cobb & Co.'s store, was about two feet deep in the First Baptist Church, lacked only one inch of being in Schaeffer's store on Third and Main Streets, was rippling in Dr. Bond's house on George Street, was within two and one-half feet of the second floor of Gaff's building at the foot of Second Street; finally was two feet nine and one-half inches higher than anybody ever saw it in Aurora and we have plenty of the proverbial "oldest inhabitants" too. The water came to a stand at 6 A. M. Thursday and many a high water mark for February 15, 1883, was cut to record the flood height for future generations to swim over. A good mark is cut deep in the second step adjacent to the First National Bank; another is chiseled in the iron column of Mitchell's building opposite the bank and in innumerable places all over town the mark of this highest flood of them all is 'chalked down.' The water was on a stand for about four hours when it began to recede slowly. Independent, February 22, 1883.
"We started out to get an estimate of individual losses of our citizens by the flood, but the work was too great for us. Our citizens, both rich and poor alike, have lost heavily, probably, in all, not much less than $100,000." Independent, February 22, 1883.
History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, Indiana, (Chicago, IL, 1885), Pages 321-322 [reprinted by F.E. Weakley & Co., Chicago, IL USA - 1985 - The Heritage Collection History and Biography: History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, Indiana]