Lake Maxinkuckee Its Intrigue History & Genealogy Culver, Marshall, Indiana

Culver Military Academy Helps In 1937 flood Rescue  

The major Ohio River-Mississippi River flood in January 1937, which mostly affected the southern third of Indiana.

Jan. 27,1937—Forty boats are sent by Academy to flood areas in southern Indiana. Thirty man-o-war cutters, ten rowboats, life preservers and other necessary tackle were sent on two special trains to Evansville and New Albany for use by the Red Cross.

and the other is at Freeport - information found is that Freeport is in Jackson County and later called Freetown. Jackson county is south of Indianapolis; Freetown is located on St. Rd. 58 (midway of it, the road connects to St. Rd. 27 on the west and Interstate 65 on the east) southwest of Columbus but the name of the town was changed in 1850 - which eliminates it. The name was changed because of another town in Indiana in Shelby county just south and east of Indianapolis being also called Freeport at the time.

    That photo does not look like Freeport, Shelby county. The two story house and all the telephone poles just don't look like Shelby County's small village of Freeport. The 1937 flood was not that devastating for Shelby County. The 1913 flood was of Biblical proportions. But, one can tell that the photo was not taken in 1913, it is much later.

    In all my research into Shelby County history, I've never encountered a reference to Culver cadets assisting in rescue efforts in the county during a flood. -- Ron Hamilton, Shelby County historian

With this it puts more of a mystery on this postcard - Which is captioned: Freeport, Ind. - Culver cadets rescuing children from a school house.

and this quip is found in the Culver Citizen: 1937 January 27 – Academy sends boats to Ohio River flood area. Below are some more items found on the flood resuce by the Academy.

Academy Motor Boat and Motorized infantry Unit to Flood Area

(Photo courtesy South Bend News-Times) This equipment left last Wedensday for the flood area. The motor boat was put into service at Charleston, Ind., [Charlestown, Clark, Indiana] and was returned to the school Monday night as all rescue work had been completed. Charles Buffington, Ronald Baker, Dick Louden, and Steffen Rector who had been in the flood territory, returned at the same time. The motorized equipment was brought back to the school on Thursday when it was found that the situation had changed so that the trucks were no longer needed.

Academy Boat to the rescue of flood Victims

(photo courtsey Chicago Herald and Examiner) One of the Naval School cutters rescuing flood victims at Jeffersonville, Indiana, [ Clark county] one of the hardest spots in the entire flood area. The almost submereged building at the left is the railroad station. There are some of the town's last evcuants. part of the Academy's boats are at Evansville [Vanderburgh county] also.

Louisville's Great Flood of 1937 Help came from miles around. This boat is from the Culver Military Academy, located in northern Indiana.

Ohio River flood of 1937

Map of the Ohio River - The Ohio River is 981 miles (1582 km) long, starting at the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and ending in Cairo, Illinois, where it flows into the Mississippi River. The Ohio River flows through or borders six states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Wwith all the researching I have done and new articles on the "flood of 1937" I have not been able to locate Freeport, Indiana.

Flood conditions developed over January and February 1937 from abnormal barometric pressure over much of the northern hemisphere interacting with air masses, creating aberrant weather patterns. Eastern and western seaboard pressure zones caused moist, southern, tropical air masses to thrust northward, while northern polar air masses thrust southward. This combination of colliding elements brought extremely heavy rainfall, estimated by the United States Weather Bureau (USWB) at 165 billion tons of water, to eleven states along the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys

The Ohio River flood of 1937 took place in late January and February 1937. With damage stretching from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois, one million people were left homeless, with 385 dead and property losses reaching $500 million. Federal and state resources were strained to aid recovery, as the disaster occurred during the depths of the Great Depression and a few years after the Dust Bowl.

Overall, the 1937 flood inundated not only Louisville and Southern Indiana, but many points along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, as far south as Arkansas. By the time the rivers crested, nearly 400 people had died and 1 million more had to leave their homes

The 1937 Flood List of Events…

Jan 5: Water begins to rise Jan 10: Severe winter storm affects Southern Indian with snow, sleet, and heavy rains Jan 10-18: Many flood warnings issued Jan 13-24: Near record rainfalls recorded Jan 18: Many homes flooded as Ohio begins to overflow its banks Jan 23-24: Water at 54 feet. Martial law declared in Evansville, Indiana Jan 26: Water 80 feet at Cincinnati. Highest in city’s history. Jan 27: New record when water 57 feet at Louisville. 70% of city under water at this time. Feb 2: Water over 60 feet at Paducah, Kentucky Feb 5: Water falls below flood stage first time in over three weeks in many places


The greatest volume of water ever known to pass along Ohio’s southern shores flooded all Ohio River communities during the last two weeks of January 1937.

Ohio River levels on January 26-27 were the highest known from Gallipolis downstream past Cincinnati. Crests were 20 to 28 feet above flood stage and 4 to 9 feet above previous records.

Six to 12 inches (300 mm) of rain fell in Ohio during January 13–25, 1937, totals never before or since equaled over such a large area of Ohio. The river reached its peak on January 26, at 79.9 feet (24.4 m), more than 25 feet (7.6 m) higher than flood stage. The Ohio River eventually crested 14 feet (4.3 m) over the top of the floodwall and another source says it crested at a record 57.15 feet (27.15 feet above flood stage)

The Ohio River crested at 80 feet at Cincinnati on January 26. This was 28 feet over flood stage and 9 feet above the 1884 record. More than 50,000 were homeless, 10% of the city was inundated, water s upply was cut, and streetcar service was curtailed. At Portsmouth, it became clear that the flood wall, erected 10 feet above flood stage, would be topped by the rising river. City officials deliberately opened the flood gates and allowed river water to flood the business district 8 to 10 feet deep, thus preventing a catastrophic breaching of the flood wall. The Ohio River eventually crested 14 feet over the top of the floodwall. The death toll of 10 was remarkably low for such a devastating flood and contrasts sharply with the 467 killed in the floods of March 1913.


At Paducah, the Ohio River rose above its 50-foot (15 m) flood stage on January 21, cresting at 60.8 feet (18.5 m) on February 2 and receding again to 50 feet (15 m) on February 15. With 18 inches (460 mm) of rainfall in 16 days, along with sheets of swiftly moving ice, the '37 flood was the worst natural disaster in Paducah's history

Seventy percent of Louisville was submerged, forcing 175,000 residents to flee. Ninety percent of Jeffersonville, Indiana was flooded. One contemporary source estimated that damage was done to the tune of $250,000,000 (1937 dollars)

At Louisville, at McAlpine Lock, the 1937 flood crested at 85.4 feet. By way of comparison, flood stage is 55 feet.

A devasting flood " of almost Biblical proportions," according to an Army engineer, covers three-fourths of the city, forcing more than 230,000 Louisvillians to evacuate. Ninety people died, with $54.3 million' in financial losses attributed to the flood.

Louisville received fifteen inches of rain in only 12 days, from the 13th to the 24th of January. Over 19.17 inches inches of rain fell over the course of the month. No measurable snow fell during the entire month. The NWS (Weather Bureau) office at the time was located in the Lincoln Building at the corner of Fourth and Market.


The river rose to a record 53.74 feet (16.38 m), which was 19 feet (5.8 m) above flood stage, and sent water over the six-month old riverfront plaza in Evansville. Evansville, Indiana, endured the worst flood in its history; destroyed were many homes and businesses in the Evansville area and in the Ohio Valley. Over 1200 blocks of the city were flooded.

The Pennsylvania Railroad evacuated many area residents by train from its depot in Jeffersonville. Several small riverside towns, such as Mauckport and New Amsterdam, were so devastated that they never recovered.

The following day one of the worst snow and sleet storms in many years swept down over southern Indiana. Flood warnings were posted with increasing rapidity during the next few days and on January 18 weather bureau experts expressed fears of conditions like those of the historic flood of 1913, or worse.

Then with crashing suddenness there swept down upon the Tri-State district a major calamity which stands alone in the annals of the Ohio valley. All news gave way to stories of the rushing waters which poured into basements, boiled from the sewers and wholly disrupted life as it is generally found in Evansville. Tell City was paralyzed. Cannelton was hard hit. Other communities along the Ohio sent out desperate pleas for aid

The levee gave way at the west entrance of the B. & O. railroad into town, causing greater destruction than any ever recorded. The water remained in the city two weeks and reached a height of 82 feet 6 inches. Every home in Lawrenceburg was flooded, including the highest spots in Newtown which were thought to be forever out of the reach of flood water

William Branham prophecied in 1936 that a flood would cover Jeffersonville and New Albany, Indiana, and that the water would rise 22 feet over Spring Street. Many people ridiculed William Branham, with even the old-timers recalling that the flood of 1884 was only 6 inches over Spring Street.

Other towns found mention are: Alton, New Albany, Madison, New Harmony, Mt. Vernon and Troy


Harrisburg suffered flooding from the Ohio River in 1937, when much of the city, except "Crusoe's Island", was underwater. Floodwaters reached nearly 30 miles (48 km) inland and Harrisburg was nearly destroyed.

The city of Shawneetown was completely inundated and the residents were forced to move to a tent city on the outskirts. . Property damages in the southern Illinois region amounted to more than $75 million. Over three hundred bridges were smashed, six schools were ruined, and twelve hundred submerged homes. Flood waters were recorded at 65.4 feet. Damage in Old Shawneetown was so cataclysmic the town relocated 3 miles inland to higher ground away from the river

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