Thursday, May 24, 2012

Not Surprisingly, a Spring Flood

In 2009, the Red River at Fargo crested at over 40 feet. A massive effort was coordinated to save the city, most of which was threatened with such a high water level. Of course floods are nothing new to the Red River Valley. In 2009, comparisons were often made to the flood of 1997. A century earlier, in the spring of 1897, comparisons were made to the 1882 flood in Fargo.

The script in 1897 should sound familiar. The April 1 Sunday Argus called the situation "extremely serious" with the Red River at over 26 feet. The area around the Great Northern bridge featured a significant ice jam. The city tried to blast it with dynamite, but the ice quickly reformed. The river was rising at a rate of two inches per hour in Fargo, flooding the basements of businesses near the Red on Front Street (now Main Avenue). Some of the "shantytown" dwellings downtown were hit hard, and the Argus noted that chief among the victims of the flood were "those who can ill afford it." The Great Northern railroad crews worked hard to address areas along the track that were washed out, and as of April 1, their trains were running on time. The Milwaukee railroad, however, would be stalled for several days. The massive flood produced a crest that occurred on April 7th at over 39 feet.

Baseball in Fargo would not begin for another six weeks, so the season was not directly impacted, though Manager Lee Roberts was likely keeping a close eye on the Red from his downtown Fargo home.

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