“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Piqua in Miami County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

The 1913 Flood

Sign of the Past

The 1913 Flood Marker Photo, Click for full size
By William Fischer, Jr., March 6, 2009
1. The 1913 Flood Marker
Inscription. The Great Miami River regularly overflowed its banks during the early years of Piqua's history. The first recorded flood hit the pioneer settlers in April of 1805. During the next one hundred years the Great Miami River flooded Piqua on nine separate occasions. The March 1898 flood was the worst flood in the nineteenth century and hit a record forty-one inches above the flood level.

On Tuesday, March 25, 1913, the river once again broke free of its banks and swept through Piqua, Rossville and Shawnee. The flood waters crested at over one hundred eighty inches and unlike earlier floods took its toll in human lives as well as property. Within three days, fourteen men, women and children had been taken to a temporary morgue established in the print shop of W. F. Steiner at 424 North Main Street. The Great Flood resulted in a total of forty-four deaths. Isaac Kerns was the oldest fatality at age eighty and Charles Kenneth Croner was the youngest at only thirteen months. Family tragedies were common. Jacob and Grace Millhouse lost all three of their children, ages eight, six and three.

Stories of heroism and horror were recorded in the local press. The Piqua Leader Dispatch told the story of the Spencer family.

According to eye-witness accounts, Mrs. Spencer, her son Leon, and his wife had been trapped by the flood
The 1913 Flood Marker in Lock Nine Riverfront Park Photo, Click for full size
By William Fischer, Jr., March 6, 2009
2. The 1913 Flood Marker in Lock Nine Riverfront Park
Looking east.
waters in their residence on Home Avenue. Leon Spencer knocked a hole through to the roof, pushed his wife up onto the roof, and then climbed up himself. He then attempted to pull his mother up through the hole to what they thought was safety of the roof. But the current pushed the house off of its foundations and Leon lost his grip. Mrs. Spencer threw up her hands with a wild appeal for help and then sank. Mr. Spencer walked rapidly from the hole through which his mother had disappeared and went to his wife huddled on the roof. She rose to meet him and laying off her raincoat enfolded her husband in her arms and both went down together.

The flood resulted in the destruction or serious damages to literally hundreds of homes, businesses and industries. Flood protection levees and dams were constructed by the Miami Conservancy District beginning in 1917. The Piqua levees were completed in 1922 using dirt dredged from the Great Miami River channel.
Erected 2008 by Flesh Public Library and French Oil Mill Machinery Company.
Location. 40° 8.81′ N, 84° 14.308′ W. Marker is in Piqua, Ohio, in Miami County. Marker can be reached from Water Street (U.S. 36), on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is in Lock Nine Riverfront Park,
The 1913 Flood Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Dale K. Benington, July 11, 2010
3. The 1913 Flood Marker
Another view of the historical marker looking east along the Great Miami River, with a view of a local bridge spanning the river.
near the remains of Lock Nine, north of the former railroad trestle (now a pedestrian walkway) over the Great Miami River, and about 150 feet east of Main Street. Marker is in this post office area: Piqua OH 45356, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lock Nine (within shouting distance of this marker); Lock Nine Riverfront Park (within shouting distance of this marker); Main Street (within shouting distance of this marker); Public Square (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Shawnee Bridge (about 500 feet away); Vice Admiral Stephen Clegg Rowan (about 700 feet away); The Village of Huntersville (about 700 feet away); Capt. Don Gentile (about 700 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Piqua.
More about this marker. Photos of the flooding appear on the left side of the marker. On the right is a time line showing some of the other major flood events.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. The Flood of 1913.
Also see . . .  The Flood of 1913. A collection of stories and photos from the flooding. (Submitted on March 28, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
Additional keywords.
The 1913 Flood Photo on Marker Photo, Click for full size
By William Fischer, Jr., March 6, 2009
4. The 1913 Flood Photo on Marker
The Main Street Bridge survived, but the [Miami and Erie] canal just to the right of the tree line was destroyed.
Miami and Erie Canal.
Categories. 20th CenturyDisastersWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. This page has been viewed 2,132 times since then and 53 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas.   3. submitted on , by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio.   4. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Fort Scott, Kansas. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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