The History of Caroline County, Maryland, From Its Beginning, 1920, pp. 347-348


THE FLOODS OF 1919
(From local newspapers)

        Not within the memory of our oldest inhabitants were such incessant rain storms recalled as swept our country in 1919.  The local weather official, H B. Mason, reported that practically a normal year's rainfall fell within the space of three months, with unusually heavy rains the remainder of the year.  Some idea of the enormous loss sustained everywhere may be gathered from the following taken in part from one of the county newspapers issued in August.

        "Death rode the flood of Wednesday night and Thursday morning, one young man losing his life on account of it.  The victim was John Brown, fireman on a work train which ran into an unsuspected washout about a mile west of Denton about seven o'clock on Thursday morning.  This work train was on its way to repair a cut in a road near Hobbs and was traveling at a good rate of speed.  When the danger spot was close at hand Engineer Julian Bryan saw it, told the fireman, and jumped.  Brown remained and in a moment was killed.  The engine went through the trestle, the tender falling on it.  The caboose also left the track and fell into the swollen stream.
For months the big rains had been coming, but it was on Wednesday last that the floods descended--fell as they had not fallen for many years.  The rain of Wednesday and Wednesday night was the heaviest, according to some of our citizens who remember well, since the celebrated downpour of June, 1862, when all the mill dams in the county were swept away.  All agree that it was terrific in its volume and in the damage that was done.  On nearly every farm in Caroline County heavy loss has been sustained in crops injured.
        The county suffers much in the havoc wrought to road and bridges in many sections.  One of the greatest losses was that near the Boyce mills, on the road from Greensboro to Delaware.  The roads engineer says the cost of a new bridge here will be from $6,000 to $8,000.  There are many bridges damaged, some very badly, and there are scores of washouts along the public roads.
        The floods left the road in a bad way at Faulkner's bridge, near Federalsburg.  In Tuckahoe Neck Pipe bridge is carried away, and at the Sparklin or Elben mill the road is impassable on account of a big cut.  There is also a bad washout at Mason's bridge, on the headwaters of the Tuckahoe River.  At Bunker Hill branch, north of Denton, on the west side of Choptank River, the big pipe has been swept away.
        The tremendous fall of water inundated a vast area in the vicinity of Adamsville, Delaware, the Marshy Hope stream, the headwaters of the Northwest Fork River being spread over many hundreds of acres of land under cultivation.  At the point of the M.D. & V. railroad bridge the waters were several hundred feet wide and so deep over the structure and the track adjacent for a long distance on each side that Engineer Polk, of the road, said Thursday night that there was then no immediate prospect of making repairs at the point where the wreck occurred, because a wrecking train with the big derrick could not pass over the road.  The flood would have to be allowed to subside.  Two washouts are to be repaired, one near Hobbs and the other between Denton and Tuckahoe Station.  Train service will likely be resumed on Monday.
        From 20 to 30 feet of the dam of Williston mill--that portion from the State road to the mill--was washed out, causing the shutting down of business and involving the owner, Mr. Willard C. Todd, in a considerable loss, and the manager, Mr. C. E. Abbott, in considerable trouble.
        The dam at C. C. Deen's mill, Fowling Creek, was carried away Wednesday evening, and there was a great flood about the mill house.  A thousand bushels of wheat, 500 bushels of corn and 50 bushels of meal were overrun and badly damaged.
        Cornfields and tomato fields suffered great injury from the heavy wind and rains.  Tomatoes especially are hurt.  The prospect is that the pack will be the smallest in many years.  A dispatch from Federalsburg on Thursday said that place experienced the worst storm in its history.  The Main street was a foot deep in water in some places.  A number of merchants had to move stock and other things to save them.  Boats were propelled about the streets in this Venice of Caroline.  There was an eighty-foot washout on the Cambridge and Seaford road and passenger and freight trains were stopped.
        Owners of traction engines are warned by Engineer Waldorf that many of the bridges may be in unsafe condition, and caution should be exercised in going over them.  Autos should travel slowly and drivers should be exceedingly careful."

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