Elkins, VA Dam Break and Flood, Jan 1914


Threatens a Repetition of the Johnstown Flood


Sluices Opened and Water Let Out of Reservoir.

Gigantic Dam, Holding Back 3,000,000,000 Gallons of Water, Threatens To Let Go and Engulf Everything in Path Water Would Take, People Scramble to Places of Safety---Dam Owners Act Quickly.

Piedmont, W. Va., Jan. 15.---Wires in the district where the Stony Bottom dam is reported to be breaking are all down or out of order. The nearest point in the district that can be reached is Elkins, nearly twenty miles away.

The flood reached Blaine and Harrison, two West Virginia towns shortly after 2 o'clock this afternoon and is sweeping everything before it. So far no loss of life has been reported. The break of the dam is now said to be complete.

Piedmont and Keyser, it is believed, will be under water by dark. A wall of water thirty feet high is rushing down the valley. At Harrison the water is thirty-five high, and the Western Maryland railroad tracks there are under water.

Everything Swept Away.

Everything in the path of the flood west of Harrison has been swept away, including No. 1 bridge of the Western Maryland railroad at Schell. All wires are down in the valley and the stricken towns are now cut off from communication with the outside world.

The first and second tiers of the dam gave way at 3 o'clock this morning and the remainder of the dam cracked and was washed out about 11 o'clock this morning. The foot bridge across the river at Schell and the county bridge at Mount Storm have been washed out.

Cumberland sixty-seven miles away from Dobbins, is preparing for the onrushing waters. People are moving to higher ground. It is expected that the majority of the towns between Cumberland and Schell, a distance of fifty-two miles will be swept by the flood.

Danger Is Passed.

Elkins, W. Va., Jan. 15.---The danger of a repetition of the Johnstown flood, which threatened the valley of the north branch of the Potomac river today, is passed. The water in the gigantic Stony Bottom dam of the West Virginia Pulp & Paper company has been lowered nearly forty feet by the opening of the sluices and the water is now flowing into the Potomac river. A break six feet deep was discovered in the wall of the dam last night. The flood alarm was given and the residents of the valley fled to the highlands.

This morning the break enlarged and the paper company to protect lives and property, opened the gates and released the water into the Stony river, a tributary of the Potomac.

At Schell, West Virginia, ten miles from the dam, a wall of water ten feet high was moving down the river at 11 a. m. carrying a large quantity of driftwood.

The dam is over 1,000 feet wide at the breast, backing the water up for three miles and a half and holding back 3,000,000,000 gallons of water. The dam is ninety feet high on the inside, and built on a concrete foundation sixty feet deep.

Reports Exaggerated.

A long-distance message from the mayor of Piedmont, West Virginia, at noon, said that but little damage had been done by the water in the district, and no one had been injured. Reports of the break were at first exaggerated, due to the fact that it is impossible to reach Dobbin direct by telephone.

High water is expected to reach this place this afternoon and every preparation had been made for its approach. The warning reached here last night that there was danger of the dam breaking and at that time every resident of the flood district moved away the household goods in the lower floors of their dwellings.

When the report was received here that the dam had broken at 3 o'clock this morning the residents of the flood zone, by great haste, were successful in having removed from their homes and stores all furniture and stock. Considerable excitement prevailed when the reports of the condition of the dam reached here.

The Marion Daily Star, Marion, OH 15 Jan 1914