The months of March and April typically bring wind and rain, but Mother Nature doesn’t always seem to know when enough is enough.
Over the years Newcomerstown has experienced her share of devastating wind storms, and torrential floods. Historically speaking, the 1913 flood, and the 1955 tornado both are vividly recollected in the local history archives, and appear to be the most devastating events that occurred in Newcomerstown. Many may not know that Newcomerstown also had experienced significant floods in 1898, August of 1935, and July of 1969.
The 1935 flood was reportedly the result of a break in the C&M railroad embankment in the north side of town which unleashed the rain-swollen Buckhorn Creek which had been over flowing from several days of intense rain. According to news reports the rain began at 8 p.m. on August 6, 1935 and by morning nine inches had fallen. It was an Ohio record rain fall at that time.
The Cross Street bridge was submerged under two feet of water and debris floated in the Buckhorn. The town was completely isolated for more than several days, highways inaccessible. Water reached nearly five feet in some local residents’ homes that were situated in more elevated areas. Local firemen, and other volunteers worked through the night, wading in dark, murky, neck-deep water in some of the lower surrounding areas that were closer to the Buckhorn Creek, and the Tuscarawas River. Many stranded residents required assistance to evacuate to higher ground, the firemen employing the use of canoes, small boats, and skiffs to ferry those in peril to safety.
The July 1969 flood was also very significant with substantial amounts of water submerging lower lying areas. Flooding was again the result of non-stop rain that summer. The flooding also affected Coshocton, Dover-New Philadelphia, Cambridge crippling travel between Newcomerstown, and the outlying areas due to roadways being submerged for more than several days.
While both of these floods created substantial interruption in the daily routine, neither one can compare to the 1913 flood. Newcomerstown suffered significant damage to structures including the C&M Railroad trestle, and the River Street bridge, both on the south part of town. The middle section of the River Street bridge later collapsed into the Tuscarawas River while workmen were attempting to repair damage to the structure. The collapse led to on fatality. In Coshocton there were multiple fatalities in the section of town known as Clowville (in the south-west section of town).
In the years that followed these past floods, there have been occasional episodes where the river levels are higher and have managed to spill over. The construction, and improvement of local area dams such as the Dover Dam, and the Mohawk Dam in Coshocton County have facilitated better control of the water levels in the midst of excessive rain fall.
More information regarding the August 1935 and July 1969 floods can be viewed at the Newcomerstown Public Library local history department.