Matamoras Minute: The flood of 1907

The next significant flood for the valley was in 1907 during which there were two separate events. One crested at Marietta at 38.8 feet on January 21, but March 15 witnessed a crest of 50.5 feet.

In Matamoras Edd B. Hutchison, editor of the Matamoras Mail, provided a vivid account concerning the town’s trials and tribulations, “Flood – within 18 inches of 1884. The river has been rechristened and is now called Le Diable… No service on the railroad (on the West Virginia side) for a week almost… A scout train passed us this Monday morning and we look for service soon. The actual damage in Matamoras was not large, probably less than any other town its size on the river.”

Prior to 1907 virtually no burglary existed in a rural village such as Matamoras. And it came as a great shock when it was discovered that some of the locals were thieves. Reports came in of the looting of flooded houses, not in town itself, but in the areas underwater both up and down the river where the bottomland allowed the river to spill.

In one instance a house taken off its foundation and carried past town was found lodged near the bank and stripped of its contents by “river pirates.” Another property owner found his outbuildings were stripped of their stored tools and miscellaneous items.

But the flood made opportunities for good deeds. The Abrigg brothers, who operated the ferry from Matamoras to Friendly at this time, were able to land a barn. It was full of feed and had livestock within it. There was also farm equipment stored in the structure. They tied it securely along the short to await the arrival of the owner.

And the flood brought a pleasant surprise to town. A theater company, traveling by riverboat, became marooned in Matamoras for nearly three weeks. The actors stayed at the Green Hotel and game shows nightly in one of the town’s halls. The population was treated to “East Lynee,” “Ten Nights in a Barroom,” and other favorites of the early century.

Cochransville, which had been rebuilt from the 1884 flood, was once again largely destroyed. As noted last week the full story of this ill-fated community will be covered in a later column.

John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership dues are $15 per year single/couple. Life membership is $150. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1846, New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras’ historian, the late Diana McMahan.


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