Flood of 1950

Clarksburg Sunday Exponent-Telegram
June 25, 1950

Record Flood Waters Hit Salem

Damage High In This Area, Trains Halted

Buckhannon Also Suffers, Smith Tells Dramatic Salem Story

Two inches of rainfall in Clarksburg and storms of cloudburst or near cloudburst proportions in nearby areas caused damage in the tens of thousands of dollars late last night and early today, with Salem and Buckhannon bearing the brunt of the loss.

At Salem various residents told The Exponent-Telegram at mid-night that that municipality was suffering from the worst flood in its history, more serious by far than one which caused a tremendous loss about six years ago.

It is possible that other towns in the area also were flooded by the downpours, but telephone connections were out of or- [sic] order to some area and a complete check could not be made. So far as was known there had been no casualties but since the flood struck after dark it was possible that someone had been trapped and drowned.

R. B. Smith, a Salem merchant, stood on the counter of his store last night to answer the telephone and he told The Exponent-Telegram the story of what he considers was the Tenmile district community's worst flood.

"It is 20 inches in my store right now," Smith declared. He estimated that his own damage would be $2,000 to $3,000, and that other merchants and proprietors of other business establishments along Main street in Salem had damage of similar totals.

"The water is over the parking meters on Main street, people are going around in boats, and it is the worst flood we have ever had," Mr. Smith continued.

Mr. Smith declared that he understood water was in the A. and P. store, the Powell Brothers hardware, the Aldrich Lockard department store.

The members of the Salem fire department kept up a constant check, but they could do little under the circumstances. They called the Clarksburg fire department here to advise of the conditions. City Fireman Glenn Lindsay received the call here.

Mr. Smith said he understood that water was in the Summers Variety store, near the postoffice, a point it has not reached in Salem's most serious floods.

Mr. Smith declared that Tenmile Creek, Patterson Fork, and Jacobs Run were all contributing to the flood conditions.

The water, he declared, seemed to come up first over the railroad tracks and it cut off the main track of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. Then, in a flash, about 10:30 o'clock, it was in the basements of principal business places and the damage had been done.

Telephone communications to Salem were out of order and dialing of one number often resulted in another answering, because of the flood. It was by accident, in fact, that The Exponent- Telegram contacted R. W. Smith by telephone. The flood waters had put the lines out of commission.

A call was made to the home of Herchel D. Wade, a former member of the Harrison county court who resides in Salem, and it was confirmed there that the flood was the worst in Salem's history. Mr. Wade, however, was at his own place of business, the Triangle Motor Company, where water was causing damage. Mr. Wade has been endeavoring for many months to get a flood control project at Salem.

The dispatcher at the Monongah division headquarters of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad at Grafton reported that the main East-West line of the railroad is under water from Salem to Central in Doddridge county.

Traffic on the line ceased to run at 10:30 p.m. when the 10:30 p.m. section was held up at Smithburg.

The dispatcher said at midnight that it was still raining in the Salem area and that he could not estimate when the traffic would be allowed to proceed over the main line.

The official said both the East and West sections of the National Limited, scheduled to arrive in Clarksburg at 1:05 a.m. today, would undoubtedly be held up for several hours.

The agent at the Clarksburg bus terminal said early today that the Greyhound schedule from Parkersburg made it through at 10 p.m., but that the water had risen so fast after that time that the following section due here at 2:20 a.m. would probably not be able to get through.

This is the main Greyhound line from St. Louis to Washington, D. C.

Buses to Buckhannon and Weston, also affected by high waters, were not scheduled to run until 6 a.m. today and it was not known whether they would run.

City firemen and Street Dept. employees were kept on the go almost constantly during last night's torrential rain, which caused flooding of basements in various parts of the city.

During the worst of the storm Street department employes got one call after the other, and on some streets the water got almost up to the headlights of automobiles. Streets in the center of the business section became virtually flowing streams.

Fire Chief J. J. Martin directed Central and East End firemen in answering one alarm during the height of the storm, when it was thought there was a fire in the roof of the Harrison county jail.

A resident of a nearby apartment reported seeing what appeared to be a fire in the jail, and the firemen were summoned. Because of the type of construction, it was necessary to reach the jail roof by the use of outside ladders. This the firemen did despite the downpour of rain.

The firemen could find no trace of a blaze, but it is possible that bird nests were burned by a fire. Chief Martin expressed belief, however, that instead of a fire there had been a reflection from a neon sign.

The 55 prisoners in the county jail were undisturbed by the arrival of the firemen.

Firemen at 8:30 a.m. Saturday answered a call to the 100 block of First street where a banister had broken and Bell Cole, about 60, had fallen six feet, sustaining an arm injury. Hospital treatment was necessary.

Officials at the State Road Commission said that old Philippi Pike was closed for several hours this morning.

A portion of the railroad track which leads to the National Carbon company was washed down on the road. An auto was marooned at that point, unable to be driven out of the water.

An S. R. C. official said this morning, however, that the road was expected to be open soon. S. R. C. crews worked most of the night clearing roads, especially at Salem on Route 50 and Wallace on Route 20.

Much of Buckhannon also was under water with most of the streets impassable. Main street was not hit hard but the Buckhannon fire department estimated the water as two feet deep in the surrounding streets - Florida, Kanawha, Franklin, Pinnell, Meadow and Locust.

Water poured into homes on Willis street in Weston but the rest of the town was not seriously affected. The river is still rising but has not yet reached flood stage. Streets in Rock Springs on Route 19 outside of Weston also were made impassable by the heavy rains.

Town run enters Willis street and a flash flood above the run caused the rains to affect this one street.

Cars were stalled on both sides of the road from Stop 9 at East View to Anmoore as more than 12 inches of water covered the road. Ten or 12 inches of water also covered the road from Anmoore to Bridgeport for a distance of about half a mile.

Another report said that water covered U. S. Rt. 50 just west of Bridgeport, near the municipal water works. Cars were able to get through, however.

The precipitation figure of two inches here was given at midnight by the Clarksburg Water Board.

The State Road Commission at Avondale, one mile from West Union on Route 50, reported that all roads surrounding West Union were closed and that water stood three and one-half feet in the road at Avondale. It predicted if the rains continued the high water mark of 1888 would be broken. The commission said that even after the rains quit waters of Middle Island Creek would not subside for three or four hours because of the many streams and runs that run into it.

The Hope Gas station at Smithburg was shut down and all roads there were under water. The West Union fire department was called out to help evacuate several families at Rock Run, between West Union and Avondale.

The fire department in West Union reported flash floods in the Doe Run section of town in the west end on Route 50.

Firemen were called to the scene to assist families in getting out of their homes, but complete details as to how high the water reached in flood stage could not be obtained this morning.

It was known, however, that no serious damage had been caused by the flood. The waters of Brushy Fork in West Union were only reported high.

A cloudburst was reported to have struck at Folsom, Wetzel county, where damage to farm crops and gardens was tremendous.

Fire cows belonging to A. H. Lively of Folsom, according to unofficial reports, were drowned as the flood water hit. Damage will be high at Folsom, but a complete flood summary from there could not be obtained. One resident reported that a "wall of water" struck.

Pine grove had heavy rain, the water was raising there, but there had been no flood.

At 1 a.m. today, Salem Police Chief Edgar D. Harbert reported that the water was receding slightly.

The chief said the high waters has washed out the main line of the B. and O. in Salem and that no other forms of transportation had been able to run since 10:30 p.m.

No injuries or casualties had been reported to the police department at an early hour this morning, the chief said. Police and firemen were busy moving families out of homes in the lower areas of the town.

Harbert said the waters of Jacob's Run had spilled out over the town. At Sedalia, near Salem on state route 23, the chief said families were being moved out of their homes.

City Manager Page Lockard of Salem was directing the corps of police, firemen, and volunteers in aiding the distressed families.

Part of the city still had lights, but most of the telephones were out, Harbert said.

Jane Lew Fire Chief C. S. Mitchell reported at 1 o'clock this morning that two elderly ladies were stranded in a home on Buckhannon Run, located near Berlin, and added that several Lewis county departments were checking a possible fire in West Field, near Weston.

The names of the women could not be obtained by Mitchell. He said that it would be difficult to get to the home. Water, he reported, surrounded the house.

The Weston and Jane Lew fire departments were also trying to get information on a fire near West Field. Mitchell said the reflection could be seen in the sky from some distance.

Several roads in the Jane Lew section were cut off by water. Mitchell said that Route 19 at Hi Jane tavern had about one foot of water. The Jane Lew-Lost Creek road was completely cut off by five or six feet of water and about three feet covered the Jane Lew-Berlin road at Jesse's Run.

The community of Berlin was hit hardest by the rains last night and this morning, but details concerning possible damage could not be learned, Mitchell said.

A late report from the Weston fire department at 1:30 a.m. today said that the Kennedy pumping station in West Field was reported on fire.

Details as to the seriousness of the fire could not be learned, but firemen at Weston were dispatched to the scene shortly after 1 o'clock today.

The fire's reflection could be seen in the sky and it was believed that the station, which pumps natural gas, may cause the fire to spread.

The department in Weston said that reports concerning the fire could not be verified until the firemen return. Water on the roads made travel difficult.

Weston's fire department was flooded in the basement and it was necessary to remove equipment to upstairs rooms in the building. Water was also reported high in Stonecoal, Polk Creek and Town Run.


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