Flood 1883: Newspaper Account, Feb. 7
- from thhe Wheeling Intelligencer, February 7, 1883
THE SWOLLEN FLOOD
Which Sweeps Where the Calm Ohio Swept.
The Ohio river should, until further notice, be spelled with a big R. It is a big thing, and if last night's heavy, drenching rain counts for anything, it will be a still bigger thing ere many hours have passed. Visitors to the levee yesterday morning found that the river had continued to rise during the night and was still coming up slowly. Looking across to the Island shore, where the houses appeared to be coming up out of the water, one could hardly realize that that broad, turbid expanse of water rolling on with such cruel power, was the Ohio – the river that less than four months ago was so low and shallow that packets could not run, and which will probably be in the same condition inside of the next four months.
A DISGRACE TO THE CITY
By 10 o'clock yesterday morning the usual levee loungers were all on hand, and also a large crowd that gathered to see what the river had done and what it was likely to do. The bulletin boards were first earnestly scanned for telegraph news, and then the observers hurried to where the marks ought to be, to see what they could learn there.They learned very little, and put in the time abusing the city ofWheeling and all connected with it who in any way have anything to do with the wharf. The abuse was just. The city collected over $2,000 last years from the levee, and it is in a condition that would disgrace a country town. The marks only show to thirty feet, and are said not to be reliable. Above thirty feet, certain cobble stones stand for marks. Every time there is a big river, the depth has to guessed at. This could be remedied by putting down old iron rails with the flat side up and the marks cut in.
The ice was running very light and all in the center, while thebroken barges and other debris were few and far between, having allgone out the day before. Shortly after 10 o'clock the J. W. Gould passed up under full head of steam. It will be remembered that she passed down broadside the day before in the midst of a stream of ice;in a helpless condition; it was a rough trip, but judging from her appearance yesterday, she was uninjured. The Diurnal was warped up from the food of Twelfth street to just below the “Old Reliable” wharf boat, where she looms up like an ocean steamer.One does not get a very good idea of the size of our packets until he sees them raised on the bosom of a mighty river, so that from the hurricane deck one can see into the second story windows of the houses on the wharf and from the gang-plank almost jump to the curbstones. The wharfboat rubbed against the platform of the P. W. &Ky. Passenger depot and at the dip in the track at Twelfth street,the water was within a few inches of the rails. At the freight depot the river was well up under it.
THE RIVER AT NOON.
Shortly after 12 o'clock the river, as near as could be guessed and calculated, was 36 feet 10 inches in depth. It remained so for about two hours and it was believed that the top notch had been reached. When the river gets so high, and there is such a distance from bank to bank, it takes an immense amount of water to raise it an inch, and the dispatches did not indicated that any more water was to come, but on the contrary, that the rivers above were falling. At 6o'clock there was about 36 feet of water in the channel and it remained at that stage for several hours.
Yesterday morning the weather was threatening and shortly afternoon a drizzling rain set in that gradually increased until at six o'clock a steady drenching storm was in progress, the water falling almost by the bucketsful. At first it was supposed to be merely a local storm, but as it increased in volume and continued without intermission, the apprehensions of river men began to be excited.There were augmented by the dispatches, which indicated that the rain was general. The effect cannot be otherwise than to still further swell the already swollen stream. The residents of the Garden spot,who began to breathe freer as the waters subsided, again became anxious, and the night was one of much anxiety.
OIL CITY, February 6 – River 9 feet and falling; cloudy and cold.
GREENSBORO, Pa., February 6 – River 9 feet 11 inches. Weather cloudy.
PITTSBURGH, February 6 – River 9 feet and falling. Weather cloudy and cool.
PARKER'S, Pa., February 6 – River 9 feet and falling. Weather cloudy and cool.
MORGANTOWN, W. Va., February 6 – River 9 feet and rising; raining; thermometer 32° at 4 P. M.
OIL CITY, Pa., February 6 – River 9 feet 6 inches and stationary. Weather cloudy and cool.
FAIRMONT, February 6 –The river took a sudden rise today. It is now seven feet four inches and rising slowly.
BROWNSVILLE, Pa., February 6 – River 11 feet, 4 inches and stationary. Weather cloudy; thermometer 26°.