Connellsville, PA Area Storm & Flood, May 1902
Cloudburst and Flood
Sweeps Away Breakneck Reservoir Monday Night and Deluged Valley Below
Damage Done P., McK, & C. Railway and Southwest Tracks.
Dutch Bottom Given a Bath
And a Bad Scare by Sudden Rise of Mountz Creek, the Damage Elsewhere
On Monday at midnight the worst rain storm that has visited the Yough region for a number of years swept the territory between Connellsville and Scottdale leaving much damage in its wake. On the west side of Chestnut Ridge, east of Moyer, the storm was worst. A cloudburst on the mountain side, inside of a few minutes swelled the little streams draining into the Breakneck reservoir of the Connellsville Water Company so that the breast strained and finally gave way entirely. The reservoir breast was swept away and the big body of water passed down the valley to the junction of White's run and Mountz creek. It had too broad a territory to spread over, or some lives would have been lost. The farms and properties of William Bettle, Sherrick Wilson and David Lontz were inundated and left strewed with wreckage from points higher up. Five county bridges were carried away on White's creek and Johnson run. Coming to the junction of White's and Mountz creeks the water wrought havoc with the tracks of the Pittsburgh, McKeesport & Connellsville street railway and the Southwest railroad. The railroad track near Coalbrook was washed out, delaying traffic from Tuesday morning till late in the afternoon, and about 1,000 feet of the street car company's track was washed out above the Point of Rock and Moyer.
The streams coming into Breakneck were normal on Monday evening. The violence of the storm waked the people living in the valley below and some of them took a look at the reservoir. They discovered it in bad shape and warning was given an hour before the first break occurred. Then the whole breast bulged out and upwards of 16,000,000 gallons of water, the reservoir's capacity, rushed down the valley, in many places forming new channels for the creek. Many of the houses at Breakneck and further down were surrounded with water two and three feet deep. Fields in which wheat, oats and corn were planted were ruined. The reservoir breast was about 30 feet wide and about the same depth. The water was backed up between two hillsides upwards of 1,000 feet, the depth of water decreasing towards the upper end. The whole flood did not last over an hour.