The Mississippi River Flood Of 1912


In April and May, 1912, the Mississippi reached a height never before equaled, and the great river went tearing through levee after levee on its resolute course to the sea. ‘The river reached a maximum width of sixty miles, killed 1,000 persons, rendered 30,000 homeless, and caused damage to the amount of $50,000,000.

By April 2d, Columbus, Missouri, was buried under fifteen feet of water, and in some parts of the town residences were wholly submerged. New Madrid was not much better off, and Hickman, Kentucky, looked like a small city of Venice. President Taft sent a hurry call to Congress for half a million dollars, and within fifteen minutes after his message was read, the lower house had passed an appropriation bill and sent it to the Senate, which laid everything else aside to give it right of way. By April 5th, the Reelfoot Lake district, covering 150 square miles of Kentucky farm land, was an inland lake and the river at Cairo, Illinois, had risen to nearly fifty-four feet, the average depth from St. Louis to New Orleans being ordinarily but nine feet. Cairo was for days surrounded by the torrents from the Ohio and the Mississippi beating at the levees, while to the north of the city factory buildings were immersed to their roofs or even entirely covered. By April 7th, the levee in Arkansas, seven miles south of Memphis, had a gap a mile long and Lake County, Tennessee, had no ground above water but a strip six miles long by four wide. By the middle of the month, the levees at Panther Forest, Arkansas; Alsatia, Louisiana; and Roosevelt, Louisiana, had succumbed, and a thousand square miles of fertile plantations were from five to seven feet under water.”

The True Story of Our National Calamity of Flood, Fire and Tornado … – Google Books

08 May 1912, Page 1 – East Oregonian at

About Tony Heller

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