Headlines from the Burlington Free Press, November 11, 1927
Moretown, Vermont is a small village located along the Mad River, a tributary to the Winooski in northern Vermont. The region is known for its steep terrain, making it popular recreation destination year round. Moretown has been subjected to devastating flooding events over the past century. During the historic 1927 Flood, an article in the November 12th Barre Daily Times described Moretown as "destitute" and noted that six or eight buildings had been destroyed and eight more partially destroyed. The main employer in town, a lumber mill, suffered huge losses. The town had been without outside communication for six days. The Moretown Historical Society notes that five people from town died in the 1927 Flood, along with 15 cows and two horses when upwards of nine inches of rain fell in 24 hours. Five bridges along the Mad River had been washed away and a sixth bridge withstood the floodwaters but was impassible after flood waters receded and was finally removed in 1949.
Vintage postcard of Sakonnet River Railroad Bridge
The Sakonnet River is a 14-mile long tidal straight connecting Mount Hope Bay with Rhode Island Sound. The Old Colony and Newport Railroad was built beginning in 1846 and was initially intended to connect Newport with Fall River, Massachusetts but the project was stymied for political and business reasons. Just about halfway between the two cities, the tracks crossed the Sakonnet River, connecting Portsmouth and Tiverton, RI. The pratt-through-truss swing-bridge was built in 1899 by the Pennsylvania Steel Company after the line had been taken over by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad to replace a previous bridge built in 1864.
From the Forbes Library Special Collections:
"Northampton, Massachusetts. March 1936. A severe winter was followed by mild weather and heavy rains in March. By March 12th the Connecticut River reached 12 feet above flood stage, by March 17th a 15 foot high ice dam had formed by Mount Tom Crossing. On March 19th the National Guard was called in as bridges gave way and many communities were cut off."
Special Assembly approves flood recovery funds
On December 16, 1955, late on a Friday night before the holiday recess, Connecticut Governor Ribicoff and the state legislature closed a long and contentious special assembly session of the Connecticut Flood Recovery Committee to hammer out the details on bills needed to fund repairs from the August and October floods. The Committee had been working since November 9th to identify eligible expenses and the sources of revenue that would be used to cover the necessary repairs to roads, bridges and public buildings, and to assist towns with recover after the floods at a cost of $36.5 million.
The committee determined in order to raise that revenue, $15.5 million in surtaxes would be levied to a variety of programs, an additional $15.5 million was allocated from the state highway fund and $5.5 million that had been received from federal disaster relief would be set pooled. Some of the expenses that the committee identified were:
West Warwick during March 2010 Flood - photo: National Weather Service
Only 12 miles long, the Pawtuxet River has a long history of providing power to the earliest mills and factories of the Industrial Revolution in Cranston and Warwick, most notably at the Pontiac Mills which began textile production in 1863 until 1920. There are four dams along the main river before it enters the Narragansett Bay.
Warwick Mall during March 2010 Flood - photo: National Weather Service
After the 1982 flooding on the Pawtuxet River, the USACE assessed the area and determined that nearly one mile of earthen dike would need to be built in order to protect the neighborhood most at risk. Instead, USACE recommended a nonstructural mitigation project involving the purchase and removal of 61 homes, 19 private lots and other structures at a cost of $4 million, effectively returning this land back to nature. This was one of only two nonstructural mitigation projects in New England by the USACE and was considered a rather progressive approach at the time. The record-setting flood of 1982 stood until 2010.
Newspaper clipping from the Rutland Daily Herald, November 5, 1927
Initial reports in the Rutland Daily Herald on November 5 of the collapse of the reservoir supplying the Vermont capitol proved overstated in the following days, but the city did nonetheless sustain heavy damage during the 1927 Flood when, according to USGS reports, the Winooski River overtopped its banks by more than 3 feet over previous records.
Postcard images above and below from Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives
The Rialto Bridge, built in 1915 was 70 feet long over the Winooski River, constructed of steel I-beams in concrete, it withstood the flood.
and a digression on the Greenswood Company of New Hartford, CT
On this day in 1878, the Boston Daily Globe reported on flooding around New England. In Western Massachusetts, along the Connecticut River, repaired were underway to damage done to the Boston and Albany Railroad tracks in Westfield and the Connecticut Central RR at Hatfield. Bridges had been washed away across the region and temporary structures were being erected to allow passengers and freight to continue moving.
Railroad bridge over the Naugatuck River in Ansonia being repaired after 1955 Flood - photo credit: UConn Library
Ansonia was incorporated in the late 1890's, intended from the outset to serve as a center of industry, joining a growing number of similar communities in New England at the time along the Naugatuck River. Similar to other factory towns at the time, a canal was built running parallel to the river at the steepest stretch, this one designed to provide power exclusively and not travel.
Built in 1903 by the American Bridge Company of NY as part of the original Naugatuck Railroad by industrialist Alfred Bishop, the 317-feet long Warren-through-truss bridge over the Naugatuck River at Ansonia provided service primarily to factories along the river, transporting materials and finished products to and from Bridgeport. The bridge was damaged during the 1955 Flood and in this photo from the UConn Library, crews worked to repair the line, which by that time was part of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. The track remains in service today.
Front page headlines of the Naugatuck Daily News on August 21, 1955
Excerpts from the original public report
An article initially published in Time Magazine but included in this same document