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Curwensville, Pennsylvania Flood

March 17, 1936


A survey of the damage caused by the disastrous flood of Tuesday night and Wednesday in Curwensville early on Sunday disclosed that the brunt of the loss in that community as borne by two of its largest industrial plants, the Erdman Hosiery Mill and the North American Refractories brick plant.

Owing to the higher elevation of the greater part of that community only a small proportion was inundated by the raging waters that overflowed the Susquehanna and Anderson Creek. It was estimated in addition to the hosiery mills and brick plants, both of which are situated in the low lying sections of the town, that approximately 35 homes were affected. However, in less than a half a dozen of these homes the water rose high enough to reach the first floors.

Without a doubt the heaviest damage was sustained by the Erdman Mills, which are located in the flats near the Sheffield Farms milk plant and were inundated under 40 inches of water that spilled over the banks of the Susquehanna. W. C. Erdman, manager of the plant, stated the damage in the mill in machinery, stock and equipment was so extensive [illegible] …

When the flood waters receded workmen plunged into the task of cleaning up and making repairs in the hope of getting the plant into operation again soon, although Mr. Erdman stated he would be unable to estimate how long. Efforts are being made to get the dye plant and shipping room into operation as soon as possible. Thousands of pairs of hosiery just off the knitting machines were salvaged and these will be run through the dye plant as soon as it is put into operation again.

The Erdman mills employ 160 people and a shutdown of any length of time would be a serious handicap to the business life of that community.

Damage at the North American Refractories plant was estimated by Superintendent Ashley Bloom at between $22,000 and $25,000. Here the raging waters from Anderson Creek, which leaped over the banks above Bridgeport, flowed down past the brick plant and inundated Sandy Desert, caused extensive damage to the stock sheds which are built close to the creek.

Foundations under the sheds were undermined and when a large portion gave in and caused the sheds to collapse, approximately 50,000 brick were lost. These were scattered along the creek bed and covered with mud, silt and debris to such an extent that salvaging would be practically impossible. Fortunately the water did not reach high enough to enter the mill at the plant and operations there were not interrupted.

Houses caught in the flood waters were located in Sandy Desert, the lower end of Filbert street near the Pennsy station and in the flats bordering Meadow street, where the hosiery mill is situated. Lawns and cellars of these houses were flooded, but in only a few instances did the waters rise up to first floors. The group of houses at Arnoldtown, however, fared worse and in some instances the water was three to four feet deep in the ground stories. Damages to homes and properties could not be estimated as late as Sunday night.

Curwensville’s fine new athletic field was practically ruined when the boiling Susquehanna left the banks at the bridge and flowed over that entire section, causing deep washouts and littering the place with all kinds of debris. Homes located in that section just above the athletic field also were included in the flood area.

Homes and business places on Filbert and State streets, especially near the intersection of these two main thoroughfares and also on Filbert street south of State suffered considerable damage due to flooded stocks in cellars when Tannery run overflowed its banks on upper Filbert street and sent a rushing torrent down the middle of the street. Here also no definite estimate of the damage was available.

Citizens of Curwensville who were effected by the flood waters had gone to work with a will when the floods had receded and by Sunday evening had made commendable progress in cleaning up, although there was still plenty of such work to be done. Curwensville’s water and lighting systems were not effected by the flood.

Clearfield Progress, Clearfield, PA 23 Mar 1936

Transcribed by Dorcas Moseley. Thanks Dorcas!


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