Derby, CT Flood, Sept 1882


The Scene at the Ousatonic Dam---Freshets of Past Years.

BIRMINGHAM, Sept. 25.---The steady down pour of rain during Saturday, both day and night, caused the Ousatonic and Naugatuck rivers to rise to the height of 11 feet 6½ inches above low water mark making the third freshet at this season in twenty-five years, the other two having occurred October 4th, 1869, when the water was at the height of 16 feet, and August 19th, 1875, the water rising 11 feet 6 inches. It will be remembered that the October freshet is also the date that the dam gave way and caused such consternation in Derby. On November 3d, 1853, the water reached 17 feet 7 inches and swept away the Ansonia bridge that was constructed but two years before. A good many people were on the bridge at the time, among whom were two lovers, George Allen and Georgisus Bartholomew. All got off the bridge in time to save their lives but the two last mentioned, and they went down amidst the broken timbers of the bridge, and were carried to a small island some yards below, where they clung to some brushes for several hours. Boats were put out to their rescue, but the current was so strong it was found impossible to reach them. Their piteous cries for assistance were no avail, although every means possible for their rescue was tried. There they were still clinging to the branches, piteously crying for assistance, with head and arms above water, until finally the cries ceased and in a few moments both went down to rise no more. February 9th, 1857, occurred the largest freshet ever known in both rivers, the water rising 22 feet 3 inches, and causing damage to property to the amount of $125,000. This is also the date that the Huntington bridge was carried down the Ousatonic.

The damage to property this time is very trifling. Several cellars were flooded. Some boats were carried down to the sound, and a good many washouts occurred on the roads. The midnight train from New Haven did not reach here until 10 a.m. yesterday. The sand washed over the track near the city threw the engine off the track.

A constant stream of people visited the dam yesterday, which was equaled in sight only by the famous Niagara. For a mile above was a sheet of water perfectly calm, while at the dam was a continuous roar caused by the large volume of water that flowed over it. As it fell it arose in majestic billows rolling downward. The sight was truly magnificent. Small boys found considerable sport by obtaining old rails and letting them over the dam to be carried under and in a few moments to be shot up again, repeating the same process until it carried down the river. The brook back of John Peterson's house in Derby was so overflowed that the water forced its way through the basement wall, filling both basement and cellar. An old scow was carried down from above the dam. Joseph Clark lost a valuable boat as well as several others which are probably around the Sound to-day. It took twenty men to rescue a horse that partly fell through the flooring of Edward McGee's stable yesterday morning. The horse was a valuable one and received considerable injury. The streets to-day are as clean as a new pin, the rain having washed all the dust into the Ousatonic.

The New Haven Evening Register, New Haven, CT 25 Sept 1882