1927 Flooding on the St Louis Sub

Discussion in 'General' started by Karl, Jan 26, 2019.

  1. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter

    The Frisco’s 1927 Annual Report notes that operating conditions during 1927 were the most unfavorable in many years. “Excessive rainfall over most of the territory traversed by the Company’s lines resulted in unprecedented floods, particularly in the Mississippi Valley, during the spring, and on the Central and River Divisions during December. The cost of repairing the resulting direct damage to the property of the Company exceeded $500,000.” That is nearly $6.9mm in current dollars. The report continues to note the inestimable revenue lost from service interruption, crop destruction, and the interruption of agricultural activities for an entire season.

    The Annual Report is silent with regard to the specifics of the damage, i.e., it does not report the bridge-feet that were washed-out or the number of track-miles that were inundated or washed-out.

    I thought that might be possible to make some inferences based on the track maintenance values reported by the Annual Report. Not so. During 1926, the Frisco renewed 42,295’ of trestle, and it dumped 675,980 yds^3 of ballast. During the flood year of 1927, these values dropped to 36,620’ and 316,700 yds^3. That’s surprising to me., because I would have expected a significant increase in these numbers. 50622450_2242784502398310_6953277419130191872_n.jpg 50589037_2242784482398312_1323653610038362112_n.jpg 50563469_2242784552398305_9216439139300278272_n.jpg

    During 1927, my Grandfather Brand was the Assistant Division Engineer on the River Division, and he took these pictures of a River Division bridge being re-driven. The location is not recorded, but an examination of the B&B Record offers several possibilities of bridges that were driven during 1927, i.e., T-44.7, T-52.8, T-103.4, T113.0, or T-157.8.

    My Grandfather’s distant cousin William Brooke was the River Division B&B foreman, and the Frisco Employee Magazines note that he and my grandfather made motorcar inspection trips together, so that it is possible that the both are in the boat while observing the bridge renewal. My dad said that he was required to call Mr Brooke Uncle Billy.
  2. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    As always, Karl, very interesting and well-written with good hard data to go along with. The photos are real gems. I wonder if your grandfather and even your father would know how appreciative many of us are today for the pictures, notes and incredible documentation they kept.

    I'm struck by how high and swift the water still seems to be around the B&B workers. Suffice it to say that they're going to great lengths to get the road back up and running.

    Did a little poking around for news stories from the '27 floods. At least on the Cape gauge, it looks like the river crested at 39.9' on April 20, 1927, which doesn't seem extraordinary when compared to later flood crests.

    An article in the April 16, '27 Southeast Missourian reported on levee breaks at Wolf Lake Il. near McClure, and at Dorena to the south in Mississippi County.

    The reporter tells of MoP boxcars being spotted at McClure for refugee housing, and cites a MoP dispatcher at Illmo suggesting that their trains would have to be "operated over the Frisco System through Cape Girardeau." That seems hard to imagine if the St. Louis Sub was dealing with higher water and washouts.

    I also found it interesting that the Dorena levee break apparently imperiled Lilbourn, which may have impacted the Chaffee Sub?

    This will make for some fun further research and reading.

    Thanks, Karl,
  3. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett Member

    Karl, you might want to check the 1928 Annual Report on the amount of bridge and track repairs. It may have taken a while for the ROW to dry out so road crews could access the sites. They may have done temporary repairs to get the traffic moving again in 1927.

  4. gstout

    gstout Member Frisco.org Supporter

    I think the more serious flooding took place south of Cairo, Illinois. In a book I read called Deep'n As It Comes, the river was reportedly 100 miles wide in the area around the Mississippi Delta.

  5. Karl,
    You always have very interesting Frisco information.
    "Thank you" "Keep it up please"

    The death toll from all states devastated by the 1927 flood was placed by the Red Cross at 246, ....
    but per Pete Daniel (in "Deep’n as it Comes") places the number at 443.
    The number of people left without food, water, clothing, or work numbered almost 750,000.

    With the floodwater having nowhere to go, much of Arkansas remained under water
    through the spring and summer and into September of 1927.
    Farmers could not plant crops. The carcasses of thousands of dead animals lay rotting in stagnant pools.
    Mosquitoes found perfect conditions to breed that summer, carrying malaria and typhoid
    to refugee camps already burdened with dysentery and the threat of smallpox.
    Emergency workers at the camps were also shocked at the extent of pellagra,
    a vitamin deficiency disease brought on by lack of protein.

    ( source: http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=2202# )

    Today we are all blessed,

  6. William Jackson

    William Jackson Bill Jackson

    Course, this was a 100 year event, as bridges and track structures are planned for a 100 year flood plane. You would be surprised how little damage some of the floods cause. Must have been 1998 or ther bout, all of the bottoms in KC flooded and when the water went down, we was running trains in 18 hours. Really just one big washout, that didn't take too much rock, maybe 10 cars.
    Ozarktraveler likes this.

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