South Bend,


South Bend, Indiana Flood

June 1855

About the middle of June, 1855, there was a great fall of rain, which swelled the river with great rapidity, so much so that on Sunday night, the 17th of that month, the danger became so imminent that a number turned out, and worked all night on or about the darn at South Bend. The river still rose, reaching the highest mark it had ever attained, and still continued its upward course, increasing the danger at every hour. At about 9 A. M., Monday morning, when citizens of the town were still fighting the waters, which had risen to a point about two feet above its previous high-water mark, the head-gates of the race gave way, and the torrent poured through, with all the drift logs and other debris that it had accumulated. First it swept off the woolen factory’s dye house, then spent its severest force on Mr. Matthews’ oil mill and Rose & Kimball’s veneering mill, until at last, having torn out the river hank of the race, it converted what was intended as the race into a portion of the river, leaving the mills and other buildings above and below the bridge as islands in the stream. After this work of destruction, the water did not rise any higher, but Monday night part of the bridge which crossed the river was washed away, cutting off communication with Lowell and the northeastern part of the county. Fortunately no lives were lost, though Silas De Camp had a narrow escape from being drowned. When the head-gates gave way, he was, with many others, at work on “the point,” and was swallowed up, as the ground under him gave way, by the torrent, and swept under the tons of drift that were rushing along on its surface, but fortunately came up below the drift, and coolly swam ashore. The damage done the manufacturing interests was immense and quite discouraging to those who had their all invested.

History of St. Joseph County, Indiana, 1880, pages 539-540