With each passing year, the human tie gets a little more frayed.
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In her own words
The story of Dayton librarian Minnie E. Althoff, in her own words, will be carried over the next five days.
On the morning of March 25, 1913, she reported to work as usual, finding bookbinder Theresa Walter and janitor Edward Harvey already at work. With the water already creeping toward the building, she wrote this account, “We flew to the shelves, lifting books, supplies and catalogue trays to the top rows wherever there was space, working with all possible speed each at different rooms. Soon I noticed water running along the floor and started for the stairs, when suddenly there was a terrific noise; the east doors and windows were thrown violently open and a great surge of black muddy water rushed in like a tidal wave upon us. I screamed for Miss Walter and Mr. Harvey and made a dash for the stairway. Mr. Harvey was caught in the waves up to his waist, and only with the greatest difficulty succeeded in reaching the first floor. Miss Walter I did not see again…through the hours which followed, I was pursued by the thought that she had perished.”
Stranded spectators sought refuge in the library, she wrote, watching as “hundreds of horses from the livery stable were taken to the canal bridge, which is slightly elevated, in the hope of saving them. These we saw swept off into the fast-rising current. At first they struggled wildly, floated a while, then sank. One sought the library steps, but unable to reach the door, turned away and was almost immediately drowned. This sight shook us terribly.”
To learn more about the Great Dayton Flood:
Join the discussion as local historians and experts on the Great Dayton Flood of 1913 talk about its impact and legacy in a roundtable session on today’s Ideas & Voices page.
Visit websites with a wealth of historical information, as well as listings of local events:
www.1913flood.com: The Web site contains information about activities and events planned around the region, from Piqua to Hamilton. It is interactive and invites readers to submit their own flood stories.
http://mrcc.isws.illinois.edu/1913Flood: This Web site, hosted by the Midwestern Regional Climate Center, contains extensive information from the National Weather Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and Miami Conservancy District about the history and causes of the flood.
www.daytonhistory.org: The official Web site of Dayton History, which opened a permanent exhibit, “Great 1913 Flood,” at Carillon Historical Park this weekend. To view more than 2,000 flood photos, click on digital archives and type “1913 flood” (the quotes are important) in the search box.
Visit the Dayton Art Institute: The exhibit “Storm, Watershed & Riverbank,” through May 5, explores the flood and its legacy with paintings by April Gornik as well as the exhibit “100 Years of Photography Along the Miami River,” featuring historic photos side by side with contemporary views of the same site by Dayton photographer Andy Snow.
Follow the series: 100 years after the Great Dayton Flood
Monday: A hundred years ago on March 25, Dayton was hit with the worst disaster in its history. The Dayton Daily News follows the events of that tragic day through the written accounts of survivors, including the story of 104-year-old Margaret Kender, now living in Florida.
Tuesday: Flood survivors face new dangers as gas explosions rock the city.
Wednesday: Survivors remain stranded in their attics and on their rooftops, not knowing when rescue might come. Snowfall is a blessing because it extinguishes fires throughout the city.
Thursday: The water starts to recede and some victims are able to leave their homes and begin the massive task of rebuilding.