Heavy rains that had been falling for several days and an especially heavy storm and possible water spout north of town in the early morning hours of August 24, 1885 caused the dam at Eldred and Thompson mill to burst. A man named Frank Babcock was on his way to work at 4 AM and noticed the unexpected amount of water under the bridge. He hurried to let people know about the dam burst which allowed the community to witness and to work to contain what water they could.
According to the news article from the August 25 Titusville Herald, several bridges were destroyed and property losses were listed.
The dam was only about a year old, having been recently repaired. This same dam would break again in 1892 causing severe damage and loss of life in Titusville and Oil City.