Buildings Destroyed by 1937 Flood


Ironton Register, Jan 28, 1937

Though the actual property loss in Ironton is not definitely known there is a certainty that the city has been deprived of 3 mercantile establishments by the leveling force of the water’s on-rush, and one serious fire. Total property losses throughout the city will total millions of dollars.

The James Moore building at Second and Center Sts., which housed the Ohio Liquor Store, collapsed early Monday morning. Robt. P. McMahon, on duty as watchman in the building, escaped the crash by jumping into the flood waters. He was rescued by a relief boat and hurried to Cecil Hotel where he was given medical attention and within a few hours was none the worst for his thrilling experience.

The Sam Layne Building on Second Street, just above the McCauley Furniture Store, Second and Center Street intersection was also destroyed by the waters, collapsing Tuesday morning. No one was in the building at the time, and the chief loss was the building itself.

Fire of unknown origin destroyed the Hutsinpillar Hardware Company store at 2nd and Lawrence Streets. The store was burned to the water’s surface and the stock was completely lost.

Just how many West Ironton homes were washed away is not definitely known. Many Coal Grove and Hanging Rock homes were turned over, some were washed away and almost every house in both villages were victimed by the flood. In Dutch Flat several homes were turned over after being washed loosed from their foundations during the early hours of the flood.


Icy Plunge Saved Occupants From Tumbling Walls; Cling To Door Until Rescued

Mud covered streets, shattered windows, huddled refugees, bare house foundations from which dwellings have been swept, porchless residences, traffic lanes blocked by brush and small out buildings, crumbling structures–all these after-flood pictures brought reminder to Irontonians that the demand and problem faced after high water is greater even than the tasks demanded during the time a crest is approached.

Never in Ironton’s history did the city present such a sorry sight as was the case when the record flood of January 1937, spent its force on January 27, and stated receding. Daily thereafter residents returned to various localities to find, in some cases, that houses had been washed away.

Twenty-five in all were swept from foundations, it has been estimated. In hundreds of other cases wooden porches were torn off or collapsed and in virtually every section of the city garages and other out buildings were left in a jumbled mess.

Business men returned to institutions to find windows shattered, shelving’s floating and the interior a sea of mud. And those who have never encountered flood mud have no conception of its consistency.

But throughout this hectic discouraging period of flood survey business men and others put their shoulders to the task and today the city is moving toward recovery. The survey gives indication of the great toll taken by flood waters.

West Ironton, Coal Grove, Hanging Rock, and other districts can count homes gone forever and in the business district an additional heavy toll was exacted, not considering the damage to individual stores and institutions.

In all five buildings are down, the Hudson-Pillar Hardware location at Second and Lawrence is a mass of brick and burned timber, the result of a midnight fire during the height of the flood. The Layne-Neekamp three-story business and residence building on South Second above Center, the three-story Moore structure at Second and Center and the two-story Cronacher building at Fourth and Lawrence all collapsed during the emergency. The Bunn building of North Second and Railroad collapsed on February 2, and Mrs. Agnes Jones was killed. She was Ironton’s only direct victim of the flood. Warned of the weakening of structures in the flood district an immediate inspection tour was made and over twenty-five business and residence structures received out-right condemnation. Repair was ordered to others, indicating the great amount of work and rebuilding necessary before Ironton is again back to normalcy.

Weakened by water, a section of lower Sixth street, below Vesuvius, let go after the flood subsided and the city faces a serious fill problem there. The street has been blocked to traffic. Less dangerous slips have also been noted at Coke’s Hill, near Park and Spring street, and on the NEW right of way near the crossing on Elm Street.

To date great program has been made in the clean-up activity. Streets have been cleared of buildings and debris and mud has been removed from the majority of thoroughfares. Business houses and residence buildings have been cleaned and daily more people are settling in their homes and more business institutions are reopening. A week’s work has brought wonderful result but the picture presented immediately after the flood will ever remain bright in the memory of all Irontonians as an example of what results when Mother Nature goes on a rampage.

A survey to determined property damage is now being made by the Chamber of Commerce and Red Cross and its total is expected to run well into the millions of dollars.