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Some businesses of today survived the 1913 flood

April 8, 2013
By Christian Hudspeth , The Marietta Times

When the raging waters from the Ohio and Muskingum rivers swept through Marietta during the 1913 flood, local businesses incurred tremendous damages.

The majority of businesses were closed or set back for weeks and in some cases, moved because of the flood damages.

The highly successful Marietta Chair Company lost a sawmill that was located on Sacra Via to the rapidly moving flood waters.

Article Photos

Photo Courtesy of Theresa Thomas
Albert Neader Sr, far right, stands next to the building that used to be his barber shop during the aftermath of the 1913 flood. The shop was located on 126 Maple St. in Harmar and moved to another building at 122 Maple St. after the flood.

The wooden building was uprooted and carried all the way down to the corner of Front and Washington streets, according to records at the Washington County History and Genealogy Library. The records also showed that the company also lost a great deal of quality lumber that was swept away with the building.

Some businesses that were affected by the flooding never returned to business in the area, according to Jeff Spear, president of the Sons and Daughters of the Pioneer Rivermen.

Several forms of transportation were affected by the flood damage and never fully recovered as well.

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The 1913 flood and local businesses.

Marietta Chair Company's saw mill and lumber were washed away in the waters.

Neader's Barber shop in Harmar was completely destroyed by the flood.

Captain Webster and his local freight and passenger boat the Sonoma moved to Kentucky to do business after the 1913 flood.

Marietta Manufacturing Company that was located in Harmar, moved to Point Pleasant, W.Va. after the disaster.

Flood waters were three feet up on the second floor of Schafer's Leather located at 146 Front Street.

"The tracks originally constructed for the street car system connected Marietta, Parkersburg, Lowell and Beverly," said Spear. "The 1913 flood washed the tracks out between Lowell and Beverly and they were never replaced."

The days of packet boats on the river ended with the 1913 flood, including the local freight and passenger boat the Sonoma, according to Spear.

He added that it traveled back and fourth from Marietta to Belpre daily in order to haul goods or passengers.

"Captain Webster operated the local shipping business," he said. "After the severity of the 1913 flood, the captain ended up moving his ship and business down to Kentucky."

A manufacturing business located in Harmar also moved out of Marietta after the devastation of the 1913 flood.

The Marietta Manufacturing Company was an engine, boiler and machinery company, according to Spear. It suffered serious losses due to the flood water and shortly after the water receded the company moved to higher ground.

"They had a machine shop and all sorts of equipment that was ruined because of the water," said Spear. "They moved up to Point Pleasant, W.Va. but continued to operate under their original name."

Other businesses located in Harmar also were affected by the natural disaster, but chose to stay in the area after the flooding subsided.

Albert Neader Sr. and his brother George Neader owned a barber shop at 126 Maple St. on the west side, according to Theresa Thomas, granddaughter of Albert Neader.

"They had been in that location for less than a year when the flood hit," she said. "It completely destroyed the building. They had to move the business to 122 Maple St."

Albert's father, Arnold Neader, owned a shoe shop right next door to his son's barber shop and also suffered heavy damages.

There was significant damage to the shoe store's foundation, but it wasn't completely destroyed like the other building.

"My great grandfather's shoe shop was completely washed off of its foundation and was sitting in the street," said Thomas. "Thankfully they were able to move the building back after the flood and eventually reopened there."

On the Marietta side of the river several local businesses managed to not only survive the flood, but continue to be beacons of success in the community today.

Weber's Market, another local staple since 1876, also survived the 1913 flood.

"That flood had an impact on our store, but it didn't cause horrific damage because it's a brick building," said Tony Weber. "When the water was rising the decision was made to move all of the stock up to the second floor, so thankfully it wasn't lost."

He added that the building would have been relatively easy to clean because it didn't have any drywall that would have needed replaced.

"The walls they had were made of plaster and horse hair," said Weber. "They were almost like concrete and wouldn't have had any water damage."

The legendary flood did bring about one major change to the local establishment.

Around 1920 Weber said the decision was made by his great-grandfather August Weber to add a third story to the building.

"Back then these types of floods were something businesses had to deal with. They didn't just pack up and move," he said. "They simply built up so that when a flood did occur they could move their product out of the flood level."



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