The murky waters of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers didn't just strike Marietta in March 1913.
The powerful surging rivers battered other Washington County communities like Lowell, New Matamoras, Beverly and Belpre and even dealt some small communities their death blow.
Local newspaper the Register-Leader told of the effects of the flooding in Lowell in their March 30 edition: "The entire village in inundated, and the inhabitants are camping on the hills. Several buildings were carried away."
Photo courtesy of Marietta College Special Collections
Waterford was one of the Washington County communities under water in March 2013.
Several of those buildings came from Buell Island, located just yards away from the mainland in the Muskingum River.
Today the small island situation in the Muskingum River is the home to about four dozen residences and is the site of Lowell's Octoberfest and Springfest celebrations, but the 1913 flood almost ended island life for the local residents.
"A lot of Buell Island got wiped out during the flood," said Lowell area historian Everett Yarnell, 72.
How the flood affected Washington County communities:
Belpre: Caused a crack in a railway fill, which if breached would have opened the city to more damage. Hundreds of residents were evacuated to Parkersburg.
Lowell: Carried several Buell Island houses and businesses downstream and covered the town back to Fifth Street. A fire devastated a downtown building that housed several businesses.
Beverly: Carried away between 15 to 20 homes.
New Matamoras: Water Street was washed away and Cochransville, a small community five miles north, was wiped off the map.
The building housing the sawmill on the island was swept nearly 10 miles downstream and deposited itself not-so-neatly in Pinchtown, said Yarnell.
Pinchtown, the small community that had been located where Ohio 60 now intersects with Ohio 821, was eventually built back up as Unionville, said local historian Catherine Sams. But, she added, directly following the 1913 flood, the community was a complete loss.
The rising waters caused more problems for Lowell than simple flooding. As the Muskingum River reached up, up, up on March 27, a fire at the Lowell Opera House raged, said Yarnell.
"One of those gas lights shorted out and it caught on fire," he said of the building which housed several area businesses, including the phone exchange and the general store.
The fire also took out the town's newspaper, The Lowell Record, he said.
The Muskingum swept away the town's bandstand while the cigar factory near the waterfront stayed rooted during the high waters, but had to be dynamited in the aftermath of the flood, said Yarnell.
On April 1, "after traveling fully 40 miles on foot," a Beverly resident told The Register-Leader that 58 houses had been carried away there.
However, that estimate was greatly exaggerated according to the Silver Jackets, a multi-agency flood risk management program, who reported on a website hosted by the Midwest Regional Climate Center that Lowell lost around 20 homes and Beverly between 15 and 20 homes.
In Belpre, residents were evacuated to nearby Parkersburg by the B&O Railroad.
"The 1,500 residents of Belpre were rescued Saturday afternoon," wrote The Register-Leader on March 30.
Two train loads of people were transported to Parkersburg where they were to live in the passenger cars until other arrangements could be made, wrote the paper.
The rescue came after a crack was discovered in the railroad company fill. If the fill had given way, the town would have been much more vulnerable to the raging Ohio River.
The situation also prompted the Parkersburg mayor to seize 12 boats and have them sent to Belpre for further rescue missions, said The Register-Leader.
Much farther north on the Ohio River, another small community breathed its last breath, said Robert Riggs, president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society.
"There was a little town called Cochransville about five miles north of New Matamoras. It was flooded in the 1884 flood too, but the 1913 flood finished it off," said Riggs.
The town has never been built back up, but someone has taken the time to re-mark the streets there, he added.
In New Matamoras, the flood waters reached what is now Ohio 7, getting into the first floor of some downtown buildings, said Riggs. At least one of the low-lying streets was permanently washed away during the flood, he added.
"There might have been two streets that went out entirely. But at least one, Water Street, is no longer in existence thanks to that flood," he said.
Still, Matamoras suffered less than many other communities, wrote historian Diana McMahan in a 1999 article in The Muskingum Valley Review.
"The foresighted men who had platted the town had looked for the highest possible elevation in the area," she explained.
Still cleanup of the low lying areas in New Matamoras was still going on nearly six months later, wrote McMahan.
Most of the small communities along the river were built lower, but at least had hilly terrain to where they could escape. Therefore, most small town residents retreated to homes or businesses in the surrounding higher ground.
In Lowell, the water went all the way up to Fifth Street, said Yarnell. However, a bar further back in town provided shelter and sustenance for a lot of people until the waters receded, he said.
Similarly, Belpre residents who were not whisked away to West Virginia escaped to farm houses in the hills of the city, reported The Register-Leader.
While Yarnell himself was not alive to see the flood, he did see the direct effects of it when he remodeled the bathroom of his Lowell home around 30 years ago. The 1855 home is framed with timber, he explained.
"When I went to get into the wall, I found about two feet of mud that had probably been there all that time," he said.