Dayton Flood History

 Downtown Dayton, March 1913. MS-128, Miami Conservancy District Records, Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University

It began to rain on Easter Sunday, March 23,1913.  It didn't just rain on the city of Dayton but on the whole Great Miami water shed.

"Contemporary estimates of the total tonnage and force of the accumulated flood waters boggle the imagination, putting volume in the Miami Valley at something like a months flow over the Niagara Falls. Worst of all, the entire tunnage and volume of water gathered over more than 4,000 square miles was funneled straight into the heart of Dayton.

On the morning after Easter, Monday, March 24, the Great Miami was still about normal height, perhaps six or eight feet deep. Twenty-four hours later, the river was more than 15 feet deep, nearing the top of the levees. At that point several levees on both sides of the Great Miami burst like breaking dams, and water rushed into several sections of the city with currents so fast they undermined building foundations. Still the river continued to rise, at times as fast as a foot an hour. In fact, by Tuesday night the Great Miami crested at 29.3 feet deep, 6.5 feet higher than any previous flood." Excerpt from The Great Dayton Flood of 1913.

Victims were trapped for several days with little to no food or heat. Because gas mains could not be shut off fires became a deadly threat, even with all the water around there was no way to put out the fires.

Photo to right, Beckel Hotel
Photo below, Salvaging personal goods

  For more reading I recommend:
  • Through Flood, Through Fire
  • Preserving the Memories of Dayton's Great Flood
  • A Time of Terror
  • Keeping the Promise
  • The Great Dayton Flood of 1913
  • Dayton Postcard History Series
or visit the Dayton Library's Archives.