The 1937 Flood

Adam Paris Events 1 Comment

On this day in 1937, the great flood of 1937 crested in Owensboro at 54.8 feet, 13 ft above flood stage. On January 1, the stage of the river was at a low of 14.3ft being measured at Dam #46 (English Park). The water level didn’t fall below flood stage until Feb 10th. Flood waters reached between 2nd and 3rd St but the county was damaged the worst. More than 90,000 acres of Daviess County land was covered by the flood, but Owensboro was called “Lucky Owensboro” due to the fact that the town didn’t lose utilities and remained high and dry as the river crested. A temporary emergency radio station was quickly put together and operated at Ken-Rad for the Red Cross and was on air for 63 hours.

Here’s the timeline of the water levels:
* Jan 1 – 14.3 ft, well within banks
* Jan 6 – 29.4 ft, still under the damage line
* Jan 11 – 34.9 ft, much of lowland covered
* Jan 13 – 37 ft, ferries stop west of Owensboro as roads leading to them are covered
* Jan 16 – 41 ft, flood stage at Owensboro
* Jan 22 – 47.9 ft, L&N makes last trip to Owensboro from Louisville
* Jan 23 – 49.7 ft, Illinois Central cancels schedule and L&N fails to return here after going to Russellville
* Jan 26 – 54 ft, hundreds evacuated from homes
* Jan 28 – 54.3 ft, water covered 2nd St, between St Ann and Allen, with a few inches of water
* Jan 29 – 54.85 ft, river reaches crest of flood

The top 5 worst floods/crests we’ve seen in Owensboro have been:

1. 54.80 ft on January 29, 1937
2. 49.70 ft on March 11, 1945
3. 49.50 ft on March 15, 1964
4. 49.30 ft on April 1, 1913
5. 49.00 ft on March 9, 1997

Comments 1

  1. I remember it ,My mother took my younger brother and myself down and took pictures of us standing in front of the water I was 5 at the time.We lived on center street and the water go nowhere close to us,but there was a whole lot of water downtown !

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