South Bend,

South Bend, Indiana Flood

January 1847


On Friday, Jan. 15, 1847, there was a sudden and disastrous rise in the St. Joseph river. The ice darning up the river caused it to back water, and large quantities of ice coming down at the same time soon raised it to a fearful height. As soon as the danger was noticed nearly every citizen of South Bend was down on the semicircular flat where centered all the interests of the manufacturing company, and all worked in right good earnest and with a hearty good will to avert the danger that was threatening. At one time, in about fifteen minutes, the water ran fully three feet, and then nearly all despaired of saving anything. It was then at least twelve feet above the usual water mark and flooded the second stories of several of the buildings. Everything portended a complete sweeping off of the banks of the race and the valuable buildings and factories built between it and the river. The ice ran so thickly and impetuously in the river and came booming with so much force against the bridge that it seemed almost impossible for it to be saved. Says a local writer: “At this moment it was a gloomy scene indeed, but yet the citizens labored through, ‘hoping against hope.’ Finally the ice choked up in the river, and at least the head gates of the race were strengthened; the force of the current seemed to be thrown more and more against the other side of the river, and the danger was materially lessened.”

History of St. Joseph County, Indiana,1880, page 539