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Allegheny County Pre-1900 Weather


The Centinel, Gettysburg, PA November 28 1810
Pittsburg, Oct. 12
So great a flood as that by which a part of Pittsburg was yesterday inundated, is not in the recollection of the oldest inhabitant of the place.  From Thursday last till Saturday evening, it rained incessantly.  On Sunday morning (yesterday) it was discovered that the Allegheny river had overflowed its banks.  No fears were then, however, entertained for the safety of any property contiguous, but so rapidly had it risen, that about twelve o’clock, danger the most eminent seemed to menace all within 300 yards of the margin.  The lowest stories of houses on the eastern or borough side (Murphy’s Mill’s and Knox’s) were entirely filled with water; and on the western side, we are told, cried for assistance (which was after some time rendered) issued in rapid succession from the ferry house occupied by Mr. Morrison. The first floor of James Robinson’s house, about 150 years from the bank, was completely covered. A part of the family abandoned it in consequence.  Rafts, trees, logs, boats, hay stacks &c. all adrift, were discovered in every direction.  Penn and Liberty streets were literally inundated; skiffs and canoes were seen floating where, but a few hours before the ground was perfectly dry. In Penn street particularly, cellars and in some instances the lower stories of houses, were filled with water. A large brick house owned and occupied by Mr. Wm. Anderson is even now when the water has fallen considerably in danger.  The walls have been cracked and props are considered necessary to preserve the building. A wharf, which had been built many years ago for the purpose of protecting the bank of the river, and which heretofore successfully resisted every attack, was swept away.  The water is supposed to have risen at least 30 feet perpendicularly.

On the banks of the Monongahela destruction did not assume a front so bold as on those of the Allegheny.  Considerable damage however has been sustained.  Losses in Pittsburg and its neighborhood have been estimated at 10,000 dollars..[Submitted by Nancy Piper]

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania)
March 31, 1824 - Page 3

Pittsburgh, March 9

Extraordinary Flood

In consequence of heavy rains, and the dissolving of large quantities of snow which fell about 12 days ago, the waters have risen to an unusual height. The river, which unite their streams at the lower end of this city, have not been so high as at present since the year 1818; some say since 1809.
Some of the inhabitants of this place, who live near the margin of the river, have been under the necessity of retiring from their habitations, and conveying their property in boats to places of safety.
We have had no particular information of the destruction of property in other parts of this country; but it is apprehended that bridges, mills, fences, & C. in many places, have been injured or swept away.[Donated by Nancy Piper]

Sunday, January 15, 1860

--This morning the ice in the Monongahela gave way.  The "Pittsburg Press" says:--The river rose rapidly; the ice came down in large fields, carrying all before it.  The destruction of property from the first dam to the Point was heavy.  On the Birmingham side there was scarcely a craft that was not swept away.  Thirty bottoms of boats were counted by one person.  The total number of every description that floated off could not have been less than fifty.  Among them we note the following.  Messrs. Fawcett, of Birmingham, had fifteen empty boats swept away.  A pair of barges fastened to one of the piers of the Monongahela bridge broke loose and floated off.  A pair of model barges, owned by Captain Mason and Mr. H. Murphy, also disappeared.  They may be recovered between here and Wheeling, if they remain on the surface.  Mr. D. Bushnell lost six loaded coal-barges.  The towboat Lioness lost one loaded boat.  Messrs. Riddle, Coleman & Co. had a pair of one-hundred-and-sixty-feet loaded boats carried off.  The ferry-boat Black Hawk was swept away from the foot of Liberty Street.  Messrs. O'Connor & Co. had a number of boats carried off.  The hulls of the steamers Endeavor and Gazelle took French leave, and disppeared from Birmingham.  Besides what we have experienced a good deal of loss by the sudden rise.  It is barely possible that those places could have escaped.  Some of the boats that have been carried off may be recovered; but the largest portion will be torn to pieces and sunk.
[Vincent's Semi-Annual United States Register: Jan. 1, 1860 through July 1, 1860.  Edited and Published by Francis Vincent-Transcribed by C. Anthony]

Floods in the Monogahela and Youghiogheny Rivers

Pittsburgh, August 1.--The Mononghela river is sixteen feet and rising rapidly. It rained heavily at intervals during the day, and steadily since 6 P. M. Fears are entertained that much damage will ensue to the villages and towns along the Youghiogheny and the Monongahela rivers. It is reported that families in these places are moving out to escape the floods.

This afternoon about three o'clock seven model barges and three fuel boats broke loose on the Monongahela, drifting down struck the sand boat Hiram, sending her against the Elector, one of the Brownsville packets, breaking her loose from her moorings and driving her under the Monongahela bridge. The Elector lost her smoke stacks and exhaust pipes, pilot house and guards and was damaged to the extent of $1,000. Two of the barges were sunk at the bridge; others passed safely and were captured. One of the hands of the Elector who had been sleeping, attempted to jump from the boat after she started and fell into the river. He is supposed to have been lost. [Wheeling Register, August 2, 1875 - Transcribed by C. Anthony]
Pittsburg Threatened

The Water Reached A Height Of Twenty-three Feet.

Pittsburg, Pa., July 25.--The greatest of all floods in the Monongahela Valley which is sweeping down that stream, will cause the rivers to reach a statge of twenty-five feet this evening, which will be sufficient water to flood the lower districts of both cities.

The general conditions throughout the Monongahela Valley is indeed critical. The lower end of McKeesport is flooded and a foot more of water at the present writing will reach many of the warehouses along its banks at that city. Dravosburg is inundated, the water reaching the second stories of many of the houses; the locks and dams of the Monongahela Navigation Company are all under water and at some of the lock houses the water has almost reached the second stories.This last rise was caused by cloudbursts and heavy rains at the head of the Monongahela. In many places they were the heaviest known in twenty-five years. It is difficult at this time to place the amount of damage which will be incurred by reason of the flood, but it will probably reach $1,000,000.

The gauge at Smithfield street bridge at 12 o'clock showed a good 20.5 feet and rising at the rate of 6 inches an hour. The danger line in this city is 22 feet. The state of water which is predicted by the Weather Bureau will give an idea of what is to be expected.

At 1 o'clock the water had commenced to creep in many cellars in the districts about the Point. The Ohio Valley will experience a flood its entire length.

The water did not reach the height which was expected. It did not go above 23. The high-water mark was reached about 6 o'clock this evening. In this vicinity the only damage was to cellars in the low streets of Allegheny.

Early in the forenoon the tracks and the Pittsburg and Western Railroad were flooded. [Philadelphia Inquirer, July 26, 1876 - Transcribed by C. Anthony]

Pennsylvania's Great Storm
Violent Wind and Rain Caused Severe Damage

Details of Destruction
Magnitude of the Disaster Become More Apparent as the News Increases - Eight Additional Deaths Reported in the Flood

Pittsburg, July 28.--As news of last night's storm continues to come from the outlying districts to-day, the magnitude of the disaster becomes more apparent. In addition to the loss of life reported last night at the camp of the Eighth Ward Hunting and Fishing club of Allegheny, eight deaths were reported to-day in other places.

At the boarding house of Samuel McKinney at Cecil, Washington county, 13 merry makers were preparing for a dance last night, when they were carried away almost without a moment's warning, cooped up in a floating house, and seven of them were drowned. Before being rescued the others were in the water some four hours, otherss all night and the experience they went through will never be forgotten.

The dead were found to-day strewed all along the flood swept valley of Miller's run, the nearest two miles from the scene of the disaster, and the furthest eight miles below.

The house was two stories high and was raised on props above the banks of Miller's run, and about seven feet above the water level of that insignificant little creek.

While preparations for the dance were going on it was noticed that the water was creeping in under the front door. The merriment stopped but no danger was felt and the party began to remove the furniture to the second floor. While they were thus engaged the house gave a lurch and went whirling into the flood amid the shrieks of the inmates. Eleven of the inmates were on the second floor. They mad a rush for the stairway, but it was too late, the room below being full of water. James Pierce, an oil driller, went on the roof of the porch. He was swept ashore and saved. Charles Redding, a rig builder, jumped through a window into the water and managed by clutching bushes to drag himself ashore.

Swept into the Flood

The villagers came trooping out into the storm, but could do nothing as the house swept by and it was soon lost to view in the blinding rain. The roof of the house gave way with a crash and one by one the victims were swept from the second floor to which they were clinging as to a raft. Samuel McKinney had endeavored to hold on his wife and youngest son but they were swept from his grasp by the rush of the current. McKinney himself was under water for some time, but eventually reached the bank in a faint condition and was drawn out by people on the shore.

Robert McKinney a nephew was caught in a tree near Gladden. He remained in the limbs all night and a searching party found him there in the morning. Lizzie Holmes was also found in a tree and was rescued. Suddenly and as swiftly as it rose, the creek fell. By 6 p. m. to-day all the bodies had been recovered and the run was hurrying along, an inoffensive creek once more.

Near the Morganza run school Gus Wright, a colored driver for Bradwell's livery stable in Carnegie, lost his life in Chartier's creek about 9 o'clock last night. He had driven to Canonsburg in a two-horse cariage and was on his way back. In the darkness he did not discover the bridge had been carried away and drove into the swollen creek.

In Lawrenceville, Seventeenth ward, the damage is greater than on July 15, when the storm wrecked the stone wall surrounding Allegheny cemetery. The broken wall offered no resistence to the flood that evening and a raging torrent not only devastated a large portion of the beautiful Allegheny cemetery, but flooded Butler creek and streets below to a depth of nearly five feet. The cellars of hundreds of houses were flooded and the first floors of several score were covered with water. Every street in that part of the city was blocked with broken trees, stones, rubbish and mud. All over both cities traffic was suspended. In the mill districts along the Allegheny river 25 large smokestacks were toppled over by the force of the wind, in a number of instances wrecking the buildings on which they fell.

Another Deluge

Scarcely had the thoroughfares been made passable and delayed cars began to move when the night deluge came on. This, in point of downpour, was even worse than the evening flood. The high wind was absent, however, but the heavens were almost continuously lighted with terrifying flashes of lightning and the roar of thunder was continuous. The storm continued with slowly diminishing energy until midnight.

Reports from the districts surrounding the cities detail the destruction of buildings; death of farm stock and much damage to crops and fruit. All the railroads entering the city suffered considerable damage and delay. The Baltimore and Ohio railway is apparently the worst sufferer. Trains from above Eureka on the main line were unable to get through from last evening up to noon to-day. The through trains from the west were expected early in the afternoon. The delay was caused by a landslide near Eureka. A large culvert at Port Royal was also washed out and had to be bridged over before trains could proceed.

The river took an upward turn early this morning. At 2 o'clock this afternoon 17 feet ws recorded. In the debris which rushed past were seen small houses, out-buildings, fences, grain stacks and other evidence of the severity of the storm at points above.

Specials from surrounding towns report loss and damage from last night's storm as follows:

At Claysville, houses were unroofed and many buildings totally wrecked. The United Presbyterian church and high school buildings were struck by lightning and demolished. Crops suffered greatly. Entire orchards were leveled and destroyed. No lives are reported lost.

At Washington, Pa., the damage in the oil fields will be enormous. A great number of bridges were swept away and roads rendered impassable.

At Canonsburg, Connellsville, West Newton, and several other points, the loss is reported heavy.
[ Colorado Springs Gazette, July 29, 1896 - Transcribed by C. Anthony]

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