110 Years Ago Today: The Great Flood of 1913
March 23, 2023
The greatest weather disaster in Ohio history began on March 23, 1913, and brought about 3 months of rain (6-11 inches) over a 5-day period, flooding every stream, creek, and river in Ohio. The flood destroyed homes and property, effectively eliminated the canal system in Ohio, and damaged 69 bridges in the Muskingum River Watershed. The flood led to more than 400 deaths in the state, including 11 in the Muskingum River Watershed. Experts estimate that in today's dollars, Ohio's total damages would have been around $3 billion.
The Great Flood of 1913 spurred the development of conservancy districts in Ohio with the passage of the Conservancy Act of 1914. On June 3, 1933, 20 years after the Great Flood, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) was established. As the largest of the conservancy district, the watershed spans all or portions of 27 counties, covering more than 8,000 square miles, and is home to 16 dams and reservoirs that provide flood reduction and water conservation benefits for the property owners and residents of the region. The flood reduction system has been credited by the federal government with saving an estimated $8 billion worth of potential damage from flooding since its construction 90 years ago.
Today, we reflect on the 110 years since the Muskingum River Watershed, Ohio, and much of the Midwest was devastated by the Great Flood of 1913 and we thank our forefathers for their incredible vision and dedication to establish a system of dams and reservoirs that significantly reduce flooding today.