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

Logansport Gates - Culver Military Academy  


Above is a picture of the academy students recuing some of the residents of Logansport. Motor boats along with scores of Cadets arrive on nearly every train from Culver and rescue thousands from flood zone. 1,100 people were rescued Wednesday (the 26th) from west side homes by boats and Cadets Many were on roof tops when the Cadets arrived. Some had to cut holes into roofs to get to people in their attics. Victims shot revolvers into the air to get rescuers' attention.

In 1913 the Cadets of Culver Military went to the aided and rescue of the residents of Logansport, Cass, Indiana when the Eel River and the Wabash River flooded the town. Bob Hartman provides the date:
    On the night of March 25, 1913, the mayor of Logansport requested assistance in dealing with the huge flood that was ravaging his town....
      It is said - Surprised to receive a telephone call near midnight, Culver Military Academy Superintendent Lt. Col. Leigh R. Gignilliat picked up the receiver. He was even more surprised when the operator connected him long-distance to David Fickle, mayor of Logansport, a city 40 miles south of Culver. In a frantic voice, Mayor Fickle desperately asked for help Mayorasking that Culver send its Naval cutters via rail to Logansport for rescuing people.

      Gignilliat agreed instantly and hung up the phone. But he knew that Logansport would need far more than just the four man-of-war cutters Culver had borrowed from the U.S. Navy for cadets’ summer naval instruction on inland Lake Maxinkuckee. Each big craft was 28 feet long and 8 feet abeam (across), weighed 1.5 tons, and required 10 skilled oarsmen plus a navigating helmsman. For instruction, Culver also included a faculty officer. Thus, Gignilliat knew Logansport would need not only the boats themselves but also skilled crews to handle them in the turbulent floodwaters.

      Gignilliat summoned Captain Robert Rossow and other faculty officers to supervise getting the four cutters to the Pennsylvania Railroad. Gignilliat and his officers then awoke some 60 cadets—all teenagers who had worked with the cutters in Culver’s summer Naval School—to man the boats. Working by the light of lanterns, the cadets loaded the heavy cutters onto railroad flatcars, an arduous task requiring 20 boys to carry each boat from winter storage half a mile across snow-covered ground in the dark to the Academy railroad spur.

      After finishing around 3 A.M., the crews were issued rations and clambered into the caboose. The locomotive pulled away into the darkness, slowly feeling its way along tracks, over culverts, and across bridges weakened by the force of rushing floodwaters.

      Stowaway! - Many cadets had eagerly volunteered for the rescue mission, but only a few were chosen. Contemporary accounts indicate that 60 cadets made the trip: 45 who had prior experience with the boats in the Naval School and another 15 burly football players. Gignilliat assured the others remaining behind that they needed to be ready to serve as replacements or as a second group of rescuers depending on how long flood conditions lasted. However, 16-year-old Elliot White Springs—deemed too young and small for the demanding task—refused to take no for an answer: smuggling himself aboard the train, he took cover under the tarpaulin of one of the cutters. When the stowaway was discovered en route, Gignilliat assigned Springs to his own boat....

      According to Gignilliat in his book Arms and the Boy, the cadets skidded their boats off the flatcars, and then slid them down streetcar tracks for a couple of blocks to the edge of the floodwaters where they floated. According to an account by another faculty participant, Captain Robert Rossow as well as Gignilliat himself in a different account, the floodwater was deep enough right around the tracks that the cadets slid the cutters off the flatcars directly into the flood. At Mayor Fickle’s request, each boat carried not only its Culver crew of 12, but also a Logansport policeman.

      The next 36 hours in the icy waters were grim and dangerous. “At first we progressed nicely in a column of cutters, but as we came nearer to the river, the boat that I commanded was caught in a whirlpool at a street crossing and spun around like a top,” Gignilliat wrote. “Before I could give the orders to pull us out of the whirlpool, two of the heavy oars were snapped like toothpicks against a telegraph pole. Fortunately we had brought along spares.” From then on, “the Culver cadets and faculty engaged in a hard day and a half battle with swift currents and foaming eddies dangerously complicated with wires and treetops. Snatching a mouthful of coffee occasionally as they came to shore, the cadets worked unceasingly.”

      In another boat, Rossow soon realized that because the Wabash flows from north to south, the floodwaters’ current was particularly fierce through intersections with north-south streets. “As we pushed deeper into the area, these currents began, more and more, to sweep us sideward as we crossed one street after another,” Rossow wrote. “Suddenly, as the prow of our heavy cutter nosed into the intersection of one of the last north and south streets that we would have to cross, a current of unbelievable force careened the craft diagonally across the street. Red Drake [a cadet], caught unawares and off-balance, was nearly swept overboard by the suddenly jibing long tiller.”

      Likewise, the powerful current pushed Gignilliat’s cutter into a huge guy wire, causing the craft to tip dangerously. “Nearly pulling their young arms out of their sockets, and with the help of a boy in the bow with a boat hook, who, without orders from me, did just the right thing on his own initiative, they extricated us from the guy wire,” Gignilliat recalled.

      Yes, the cadets had mastered their summer training well, Rossow observed: “We swept into the flood, one, two, three blocks, the heavy 14-foot oars clunking in the thwarts with exact precision, the sweeps catching the water in beautiful timing. They rowed like veterans of a racing shell, their reaches forward, between strokes, smooth and effortless. . . . Most of them were boys whom I had had personal contact. I knew what was in them.”

      A tender touch - “I shall never cease to marvel at the strength and endurance of those teenaged boys, who labored at the oars for two days with scant time for food or rest,” Gignilliat wrote. “During the afternoon they kept steadily on, although half blinded by a driving snowstorm and with hands so cold they could, with difficulty, retain their grasp of the oars.”

      “Something else that I shall not forget about those boys was their tenderness with the old and the young and the sick,” Gignilliat continued. “Maybe it was a woman with a baby, maybe a bed-ridden old woman with the stoicism of age, maybe a shivering, frightened child. All were helped into the boat with the solicitude those boys might have shown their own mothers or grandmothers or little sisters in distress.” One particularly poignant rescue struck him: “One helpless old man in the arms of his cadet rescuer said, ‘I am not afraid for you to carry me down the ladder, comrade. This is the third time that I have been carried by a soldier—twice when wounded in the Civil War.’”

      By the second evening (Thursday, March 27), under a hundred teenaged boys in four cutters had rescued more than 1,400 people — Rossow, with improbable precision, puts the tally at 1,492

    and a description of the destruction was found also - On “Good Friday”, which fell on March 21st in 1913, the entire state experienced a continuous windstorm. This was followed on Easter Sunday, the 23rd with a heavy rain that continued for three days, which caused the Wabash River to suddenly rise. By Tuesday morning, March 25th the river was overflowing its banks. The water continued to rise for two more days until the entire business district was inundated as far east as Pearl Street on E. Market. The Panhandle RR from its bridge at the mouth of the Eel to and including the round house and shops, also the Wabash RR from its crossing on Berkeley Street east to Seventeenth Street and all the territory south to the Wabash River looked like one vast lake.

    Gignilliat and Rossow both wrote accounts of the extraordinary event shortly after returning to Culver

    In his book AArms and the Boy: Military Training in Schools and Colleges (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill,1916), Gignilliat described the incident:
      The call for help came about midnight. The cutters, which are twenty-eight feet long, eight feet in beam and weigh three thousand pounds, were stored for winter in the boathouses. Working by lantern light, cadets loaded these boats on flat cars, finishing the arduous task a 3 a.m.

      Rations for the day were issued and the cadets who were to man the boats clambered into the caboose and the train pulled into the slowly feeling its darkness, way over weakened bridges and Culverts. It finally reached Logansport just as day was breaking.

      The cadets skidded their boats off the cars and slid them down the streetcar tracks for a couple of blocks until they floated. They then manned their oars and pulled toward the sections in greatest distress near the banks of the river. The current grew more swift and, finally, in a great rushing swirl at a street crossing, the first boat was dashed against a telegraph pole, smashing two of its heavy fourteen foot oars. Fortunately, extra oars had been supplied. From then on ensued a hard all-day battle with swift currents and foaming eddies, dangerously complicated with wires and treetops. During the afternoon they kept steadily on, although half blinded by a driving snowstorm and with hands so cold that they co uld with diffic ulty retain their grasp on the oars. Women and children were tenderly helped down from their roofs and windows; the sick, the hungry and the cold, the aged and infirm, were put into boats and taken to places of safety without one slip or mishap. By the end of the second evening fourteen hundred people had been taken from the (flooded) district by these boys in their four cutters.

      Then, securing the boats because the waters had receded too far to make it possible for them to get them back to the railroad, they marched by a long detour back to the depot. By all the laws of nature, they should have been exhausted, but they went their way with a swinging step, singing and occasionally giving a school yell. Gignilliat credited the cadets’ success to their Culver military training and sense of social responsibility
    A facsimile of the entire book was printed in 2003 by Culver Academies, with a modern introduction by John N. Buxton, Head of Schools.

    From “Flood on the Wabash River in March 1913” by W.R. Cade, U.S. Weather Bureau Observer:
      Early Sunday, March 23 readings were near normal for late March at Logansport, with a river stage of 3.8 feet and rising slowly. A heavy rain fell on March 23 over the entire district, and by Monday morning amounts ranged from 1 inch at Terre Haute to nearly 4 inches at Bluffton. This heavy rain caused the river to rise at a record-breaking rate. The river was above flood stage of 12 feet at Logansport by Monday morning, the 24th. On the afternoon of March 24, the bridge on which the staff gauge was attached washed away at Logansport. No further readings were possible. The heavy rain continued Monday and the amounts on Tuesday morning were equally as large as those the previous morning; they ranged from 2 to 3 inches. The river continued to rise very rapidly.

      A break in the rainfall occurred during the day on Tuesday because only slight amounts of rain were reported on Wednesday, March 26. The Wabash River crested at Logansport sometime on the 26th at 22.5 feet (determined later). Six to eight inches of snow fell at Logansport from the 26th through the morning of the 27th, adding to the misery of the flood.

      The account of the "big wind" or storm of 1913 is as follows:

        Spring came to the earth in 1913 and the northern half of the United States was in the grip of a snow storm. In some portions a blizzard wailed through the towns and cities and the hope of an early spring was blasted. But nature had still greater surprises for the people of the United States and a few days after spring officially was present the greatest tornado and rain and the greatest inland flood in the history of the country fell upon the people.

        .....On Easter of 1913 the rains fell and weather wise persons looked at the skies.

        All day the elements acted strangely. Late in the afternoon the tornado which gathered in the southwest, probably starting in Mexico, raced north and east. It struck smaller villages and towns in Colorado and Nebraska. It now is known that the wind played a queer trick. It appeared to hit the earth at one spot, bound into the clouds and pass over miles of territory, leaving buildings and crops and people unharmed.

        What forces decided that the tornado sho uld hit the earth at Omaha, one of the proudest cities of the nation, cannot be known by men, but just at the city’s borders the winds came down and ripped a path through the thickly inhabited portion, taking rich and poor before its relentless fury.

        In the states farther east the storm manifested itself in rain. Never was the earth so drenched. The ground was frozen and the waters rushed into the streams.

        Telegraph lines were broken, railway trains stopped, bridges washed out and millions of people unaccustomed to seas or lakes found their homes in the midst of raging waters.

        ...Later, Peru, Ind. was reported under water and currents relentless in their force swept through the streets. Columbus, Ohio, Logansport, Ind., Terre Haute, Ind., which also was hit by the tornado, West Indianapolis, Marion, Ind., and a score of other communities were reported wholly or partly submerged.

        All the customary activities of the people of Indiana and Ohio were abandoned. Railway service was abolished and trains with relief parties wandered about from one division to another seeking an approach to the stricken cities.

        Now and then the train wo uld reach the limit and then the rescuers wo uld unload the cars and take to wagons and automobiles, to rafts or boats. These attempts to push on to the thousands marooned on roof tops and in trees were sometimes successf ul but more often a failure.

        Not until Wednesday was the relief begun in a way that promised success. Life saving crews from the Ohio and Great Lakes were dispatched to the scene, their boats, cutters and power vessels of light craft being hastily loaded upon flat cars. The naval reserves of lake and river towns were ordered into the field and found service in the prairies and hill country far from the seas. The Culver Military Academy on Lake Maxinkuckee, Ind., where sons of wealthy men are educated and taught military and naval practices, turned out its sturdy young men.

        Boats housed for the winter were hauled to the railways and the boys with their military instructors left their studies to engage in the battle with the flood. In the swift currents and dangers of floating debris the training of the lads was shown to be of great service. They handled their cutters on the Wabash river and the Eel river in such a way that hundreds of men, women and children were soon taken from the tops of their houses, from top floors of office buildings and cared for in camps and other refuges. The Great Lakes Naval training station maintained at Lake Bluff, Ill., near Chicago by the federal government was directed to send a crew and cutters to the flood district and the boys and their experienced officers were taken in all haste by railway trains to the dreadf ul scene.

        Nature on the night of Sunday, March 23, 1913 and the week following proved to modern men that they still are pigmies. Thousands of lives were taken and millions of property destroyed in a few short hours and for days, homes were beneath the muddy waters from deforested hills.

        Never before was the United States so smitten by a calamity, nor one so wide spread as that which began on Monday of the fatal week. Omaha was the first large city to suffer. A tornado swept through the great metropolis wiping huts and mansions, factory buildings and other business structures from the face of the earth, leaving only a mass of debris and thousands of homeless people wandering about the hills, half clothed and suffering in the pitiless weather of that fatal night.
      A the full accounting the Storm of 1913 with many pictures can be found here: Tragic Story of America's Greatest Disaster [pictures are before and after the text] by Marshall Everret Illustrated throughout with photographs, maps, diagrams and drawings {J. S. ZIEGLER Ccompany Chicago, Illinois, copyrighted 1912 by Henry Neil All Rights Reserved)and found here is the account of the Culver Military Boys part in the great storm of 1913
        MILITARY ACADEMY BOYS TO THE RESCUE YOUNG SAILORS AND SOLDIERS FROM CULVER SCHOOL ON LAKE MAXINKUCKEE HASTEN TO FLOOD DISTRICTS... Culver Naval and Military cadets, when they returned from their rescue work at Logansport, Ind., brought stories of the bravery of the shivering sufferers. Fifteen hundred persons were taken from flooded houses to places of safety by the cadets, who handled their cutters in the fierce currents of the Wabash, which made a river of every cross-street of the town.

        Fences and twisted masses of wires hampered the rescue, but the cadets proved equal to their heroic task...

      An another account is found as: Story of the Great Flood and Cyclone DISASTERS America's Greatest Calamity EDITED by THOMAS H. RUSSELL, A. M., LL. D. Author and Journalist Special Message of Spiritual Consolation Illustrated Throughout with Striking Photographs Showing Rescuers at Work and Many Pathetic Scenes COPYRIGHT, 1913 by Thomas H. Morrison

      The Flood of Logansport is mentioned as such:
      Two-thirds of the city of Logansport was under water, some places to a depth of fifteen feet. There was only tne death reported, but the property loss was great.

      Business was at a standstill and the attention of the people was turned to the work of relief and rescue. Four government life-saving boats, each manned by ten cadets from the Culver Military Academy, were sent to Logansport by special train to aid in the rescue work. Naval boats from the United States training station at Chicago also assisted in the work.

      Three thousand people were rendered homeless by the flood, which followed a rapid rise in the St. Joseph River on the night of March 25.

      1913 - Saturday April 5, 1913 Vol. XVII Number 20:

      A letter of praise from the article Echos From Rescue Work

      The five hundred dollars appropriated by the Logansport council for the erection of a bronze memorial gate at Culver Military Academy in commemoration of the valiant services of Culver officers and cadets in saving the lives of Logansport people during the great flood of last March, will, by the board of public works, be sent to the officers of Culver academy, who will see that the work is done.

      The plans for the memorial gate have been drawn and approved both by the board and the officers of the military academy. Word comes from Culver that it is proposed, when the time of dedicating the memorial arrives, to have "Logansport Day," when the people of Logansport and Culver will unite in a celebration that will bind the people of the two cities into perpetual friendship. The possibilities of such a memorial day are wonderf ul and if carried out as suggested will be an event unique in the history of this part of Indiana.
      Rochester Sentinel, Friday, September 19, 1913

      October 13, 1913 Vol. XVIII No. 2 Vedette - Logansport Pay Tribute - Several wagons loads of brick were depostited at the west entrance to the academy grounds last week, causing much speculation among the new men who had visions of a much talked of guardhouse. Investigation destroyed these fancies, and he brick turned out to be the first installment of material for the new gate which the city of Logansport is to present to the academy in recognition of the services of the cadets at the flood last year. The structure will be in the form of an arch of handsome design. Mayor fickle of Logansport called at the academy not long ago to disuss plans for its construction with the superintendent.

      November 1, 1913 Vol. XVIII No. 5 Vedette - Work on the New Gate - Work on the new gate being built by Logansport has been begun in earnest. the bricks arrived some time ago. But the stone work only came in the last few days. On Tuesday workmen began removing sidewalks at the west end of the street, to build the foundations. By the neat appearance of the cut stone the new gate will probably be a fine ornament to the academy grounds. It is hoped it will be completed before the cold weather sets in.

      1914  - As a thank-you and remembrance to the cadets services - Logansport donated the "Logansport Gates"   to the academy and they were dedicated., and here on this page too can be found an account to the "big wind" or storm of 1913.

      1914 May 2 Vedette - Gate to be dedicated - The Logansprt gate will be formally dediated and presented to the academy and the inscription tablet will be unveiled on may 20 acording to the plans now under way. Longansport will send probably 2000 persons to spend the day at the lake and to fraternice with their former rescuers. Governor Ralston has been invited to be presnt, but is not able to make a definite acceptance. Further details for the day will appear in the Vedette

      1914 May 9 Vedette - Logansport Day - May 20 is the date fixed for the pilgrimage of 4,000 inhabitants of Logansport to Culver to take part in the ceremony of dedicating the gate given by the people of logansport to commenmorate the valiant services rendered by the cadets at the time of the Logansport flood. Two trains will furnish transportation and will arrive at the Bogardus switch about a.m. After leaving the train the people will proceed tot he gate where a few short speeches will be made before the unveiling of the tablet. In the afternoon the reg ular military commencement sched ule will be followed. It has been intimated that a surprise is in store for the survivors of the logansport expeditin, but nothing has been div ulged as to the nature of the surprise.

      1914 - May 16 Program for the Unveiling

        LOGANSPORT DAY AT Culver

        The five hundred dollars appropriated by the Logansport council for the erection of a bronze memorial gate at Culver Military Academy in commemoration of the valiant services of Culver officers and cadets in saving the lives of Logansport people during the great flood of last March, will, by the board of public works, be sent to the officers of Culver academy, who will see that the work is done.

        The plans for the memorial gate have been drawn and approved both by the board and the officers of the military academy.

        Word comes from Culver that it is proposed, when the time of dedicating the arrives, to have "Logansport Day," when the people of Logansport and Culver will unite in a celebration that will bind the people of the two cities into perpetual friendship. The possibilities of such a memorial day are wonderf ul and if carried out as suggested will be an event unique in the history of this part of Indiana. - - Rochester Sentinel, Friday, September 19, 1913

      From the time of installation just a simple chain just hung between the pillars to keep the "gate" closed. In the early 2000's one of the classes presented reall iron gates for the Logansport Gates.

      Today is