1892 Dam Burst and Flood

On June 5th, 1892, the abundance of rain that had fallen on Spartansburg and the nearby areas proved to be too much for the earthen dam at Eldred and Thompson Mill.

While Spartansburg suffered some from the rains and flood waters, the devastation and loss of life on down the river in Titusville and Oil City made this flood only second to the Johnstown Flood of 1889.

There are multiple historical reports of the dam burst and flooding available.

From the Crawford County Historical Society

From the National Weather Service

Since I was not present at the event, I have located some news reports from the days immediately after to include here. News of the flood and its horrific scenes appeared papers across the country. I even found an article in a Sacramento, CA paper published just days after the event.

But, the articles I am sharing here are from the Pittsburgh Dispatch dated June 8, 9 and 10, 1892. They present a viewpoint from a reporter who visited many of the locations. Included with the articles are artist drawings of scenes he encountered. He shares a perspective that is a bit different than commonly shared. That perspective, based on reports from Spartansburg folks as well as his own inspection of the scene here in town, reports that the dam itself held. The water that started the chain of events actually eroded and escaped around the ends of the dam in the soft earth.

Front View of Spartansburg Dam as is is Now (June 10, 1892 Pittsburg Dispatch Report)

I will leave the rest to your reading of the articles from the Dispatch and one article from the Indiana Progress of June 15, 1892.

Following the flood and the loss of several bridges, disruption of train schedules, 1.5 million dollars in losses, and over 100 lives taken, inspectors visited all of the dams and bridges. The article below shares the findings and recommendation of one of these inspecting agencies.

If you want to read more about the 1892 Flood and its impact on Titusville and Oil City, many other articles are available- some relaying the stories of the sad loss of life.