WI, MN flood, May 1894



Cloudbursts Swell the Rivers and Flood Many Houses - Bridges Carried Away and Dams Broken by the Rushing Waters - Railroad Travel Seriously Delayed by Washouts - Seven Lives Lost by Lightning and Drowning.

ST. PAUL, Minn., May 16. - Half a million dollars will scarcely cover the damage done by the great storm of yesterday and last night in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. The downpour of rain was the greatest ever known in this section of the Northwest, and in many places was as destructive as a waterspout. The damage is greatest along the St. Croix, Eugallee, and Chippewa Rivers, where the rise in the waters was so rapid that bridges could not resist it, and dozens of them were washed away. In several places also dams were washed out, and the swift-flowing flood did great damage to business property.

The death list so far includes five, one being killed by lightning near Anoka, Minn., and another near New-Richmond, Wis. A woman and her two children were drowned in the Eugallee River, near Spring Valley, Wis. Railway traffic was in a state of paralysis all day, because of the bridges and washouts in the tracks. To-night's reports from the farming districts indicate that the loss to farmers will be very large. On rolling land the rainfall was so heavy as to wash out the tender young wheat. Hundreds of acres of grain are reported ruined in Goodhue, Washington, Pine, and Bent Counties. The potato planters of Chicago [sic] County also report serious loss.

At Stillwater, rain fell in solid sheets from 11 o'clock last night until 3 o'clock this morning, and the damage done will amount to at least $100,000.

At St. Cloud one of the results of the deluge was the drowning of two men. This morning John Mooney and Andrew Swanberg, in attempting to cross a rivulet on horseback, in the town of Mindon, Benton County, lost their lives. The water was 12 feet deep, and their horses became mired in the muddy bottom, throwing off their riders. Their bodies have not been recovered.

At Anoka, Minn., the Rum River rose twelve inches yesterday, and is still rising. There has been no mail or train on any road to-day. There are wash-outs in all directions.

At Sauk Rapids, Minn., the heaviest rain of the season, accompanied by hail, centred last night. The Northern Pacific track suffered badly, all bridges between Rice's and Clear Lake being washed out.

At Bloomer, a dam, sawmill, planing mill, bridges, houses, and 6,000,000 feet of logs were carried away. No lives are reported lost. In that city great damage was done to streets, bridges, and the railroad companies. The Wisconsin Central tracks from Stanley, Wis., to Chippewa Falls, a distance of thirty-five miles, hve been washed out. Not a piece of track half a mile in length is left.

Chippewa Falls suffers the loss of five bridges, cutting off traffic with the Omaha Road, and the loss of the gas works.

Chippewa City, six miles north of Chippewa Falls, loses a sawmill, dam, barns, and lumber yards, and the city is completely wiped out, together with 6,000,000 feet of logs. The Chippewa River is ten feet above low-water mark. It is reported that the Little Falls dam and the Flambeau dam have given away. If this is true it will cause a rise of fifteen feet more, completely flooding the business portion of Chippewa Falls.

At River Falls, Wis., the heaviest storm ever known in that vicinity struck the place. The river rose fully twenty feet and four bridges were crushed and carried away in a few minutes. The residence of Swan Brolander was carried away, but he, with his wife and several smal children, were rescued through the bravery of citizens. The dams of the Prairie and Greenwood Mills were carried out the large starch factory, owned by S. J. Mealey of Monticello, Minn., was entirely swept away, also Foster Brothers' sawmill. Thirty thousand dollars will not cover the loss to the city.

At Downing, Wis., rain last night flooded the town. No lives were lost, but the damage to property will reach well into the thousands.

New-Richmond, Wis., reports trains unable to run on account of wash-outs. Mrs. William Brennan of Erwin [sic] Prairie was killed and others were severely injured by lightning.

All Chicago railroads suffered severely, no trains arriving on time. Wash-outs still hold yesterday's day train on the Omaha Road in Hudson, and last night's train in Eau Claire. The Wisconsin Central trains cannot run on account of wash-outs. The Burlington trains got in very late by going around over the Milwaukee, and that road also got its train in by a roundabout way. On the Burlington the wires are down near Prescott, Wis., and definite news of the trouble there is unobtainable.

Electric-carlines were much demoralized during the storm last night. Great damage was done to cellars throughout the city. Low grounds are flooded and residents are compelled to seek higher localities.

RIVER FALLS, Wis., May 16. - A flood in sweeping down Black River Vlley. A large number of dams, mills, iron bridges, and other property have been destroyed.

The wall of water sweeping down Black River Valley struck River Falls at 1 o'clock this morning. The fire-alarm bells were rung and the residents hurried from their homes to the aid of those living the lower parts of the city. The dam of the Prairie Mill checked the rush of water for a few minutes, but the wall of stone could not withstand the pressure and the dam gave way. Two big bridges were swept from their fastenings and were carried away on the torrent. Several small buildings followed. Mealy's starch factory was torn from its foundation and went down the stream. Another large bridge went next. Foster's sawmill was damaged. The damage at the Prairie Mill is $2,000 and at Fortune's Mill it is $4,000. Railraod lines suffered severely from wash-outs. All the families on the lowlands were rescued.

At Bloomer, in the Chippewa Valley, several dwellings, a large planing mill, the city pumping house, and the fire engine house are gone.

The great dam across the Black River near Black River Falls was in danger, and the west wing was blown up to save the remainder of the structure. This sent a great flood down the river on Black River Falls.

The mill district of Glenwood is a scene of ruin. The big dam and sluiceway of the Glenwood Manufacturing Company were carried away, with several hundred thousand feet of logs. Every bridge on the whole length of Tiffany Creek is gone. Many dwellings in the lower part of the village are under water. The Wisconsin Central Chicago train is cut off by wash-outs, and is in the woods about a mile and a half from town.

MILWAUKEE, Wis., May 16. - Advices at the railroad offices here report wash-outs on all the roads north and west of this city. No trains are arriving to-day from St. Paul and Mnneapolis on any line. Every railroad between Milwaukee and St. Paul has been badly tied up since last night. Wash-outs exist on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul, the Chicago and Northwestern, and the Wisconsin Central.

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis., May 16. - Last night this city was visited by an electric storm, accompanied by rain and hail. Duncan Creek, a tributary of the Chippewa River, has overflowed its banks, and is doing considerable damage to the city. Word received from Bloomer, fourteen miles north, says a cloudburst there did great damage to the city, carrying away a dam, the lumber yards of the G. I. Brooks Company, and two bridges. Three other dams are in danger of being carried away. A dam on the Chippewa broke and thousands of feet of logs were let loose. The Wisconsin Central was washed out. The Omaha Railroad is blocked, a big cut being filled with sand.

The storm swelled the Chippewa River and its tributaries over their banks, flooding an immense area of farming country, washing away railroad tracks, bridges, buildings, and mills. Several dams broke and caused most of the loss. The city lost three bridges, and other property owners suffered heavy losses. The cedar block pavement of River Street was torn out, and many goods were destroyed in cellars. The loss to the city is $15,000 at least, while the damage to private property will be $30,000.

Duncan Creek, a branch of the Chippewa, has been turned into a river, and sawmills and many thousands of logs were carried away. Thelegraph and telephone lines are down. The damage in this city and county alone is estimated at $200,000. The Chippewa River is still rising, and merchants in the lower part of the city are removing their goods.

The New York Times, New York, NY 17 May 1894