The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

January 26, 2014

January 1959: When Sharon became a city of ice

55 years ago, the valley flooded (again). But this time came with an arctic blast

SHENANGO VALLEY — EDITOR’S NOTE: Like this week, an arctic blast chilled the region 55 years ago. But it struck on top of one of the many floods of that era, encasing downtown Sharon and parts of the Shenango Valley in a sheet of ice several inches thick.

Retired Herald Managing Editor Wally Wachter recounted the great 1959 ice flood in one of his The Way We Were columns, reprinted here from February 2008. Most of these photos from The Herald’s files were taken by Gene Paulson and some by the late Chuck Porter.

 

The wintry blast that hit the area in the last week reminds us that the Shenango Valley has had its share of rainstorms, ice storms and snowstorms over the years.

But none can compare with the blast from a combination of the three that hit the area in 1959, eventually resulting in the construction of Shenango Dam.

The valley was basking in the same kind of winter splendor we have seen recently. The snow caused no hazards or problems. It only lent artistry in whitening up a sooty snow that had fallen earlier.

The date was Jan. 20, 1959.

During the night, a warming trend turned the snow into rain. By morning, 3 inches of rain had melted all of the snow and washed into the then-peaceful Shenango River.

The water rose at a rate of about a foot an hour.

The result was the worst flood since 1913, with damage mounting into millions of dollars.

On the morning of Jan. 21, Wheatland Burgess Tom Williams ordered an immediate evacuation of the low areas.

Mayor Michael Dunn of Sharon followed a short time later with his declaration of an emergency. Civil Defense police and Red Cross personnel were pressed into service to help evacuate nearly 900 people from their flooded and cold homes.

Downtown Sharon merchants, who had experienced floods before, began moving merchandise from basements to dry storage places on upper floors. The brunt of the flood severely hurt business in downtown Sharon.

Text Only
Local News
  • CIRT team in Jackson Center Man arrested after shooting standoff

    One Jackson Center man is recovering from a bullet wound, and the borough resident accused of shooting him sits in jail after a long night of drinking that state police say turned into a case of attempted homicide.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sharon Speedway location City on track for new Speedway store

    Speedway is lining up its administrative and bureaucratic cones on plans for the gas station and convenience store chain to zoom into downtown Sharon.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Guards, county OK deal

    County officials and guards at the Mercer County Jail have reached a tentative contract agreement that, if approved, halts the idea of privatizing operations at the facility.

    July 31, 2014

  • Doss: Public has right to know

    A major part of Farrell council’s work session Monday was spent deciding whether or not to inform the audience about an unofficial police proposal from the City of Sharon.

    July 30, 2014

  • Budget falling short despite tax hike

    Farrell residents may have seen an income tax increase this year, but the city isn’t seeing the extra dollars City Manager Michael Ceci budgeted for.

    July 30, 2014

  • oakwood graves 1 Resting together

    Visitors to Oakwood Cemetery would see many  familiar local names if they looked down the hillside to the left just inside the gate on Sharon’s North Oakland Avenue.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • Police: Kids in car were OK

    The mother of two young children was drunk and passed out when police found them all in a car parked along a city street, Sharon police said.

    July 29, 2014

  • To talk – or not – about police

    The mysterious agenda item, “No. 10,” at Farrell’s council meeting Monday became the center of a heated workshop and business session.

    July 29, 2014

  • Community thanks its first-responders

    Sharpsville honored its emergency responders Sunday at an event that included Mertz Towers residents as special guests.

    July 28, 2014

  • Drilling boom challenges state inspectors

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 28, 2014

  • Kidds Mill Covered Bridge A span of time

    Four generations of the Cadman family have enjoyed the Kidds Mill Covered Bridge, which is in Pymatuning Township near where the family’s ancestral farm is located.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Intruder hurts woman, takes $5

    A home invasion in Hermitage Friday night sent an elderly woman to the hospital and netted the robber $5.

    July 27, 2014

  • national night out March against crime set for Aug. 5

    At the last Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Commission meeting, Chief Riley Smoot Jr. presented the number of incidents for each of the four communities in May.

    Farrell topped out at 819.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • high street trail Peaceful pathways

    History buffs and picnickers in the Shenango Valley won’t have to drive to Sharpsville to hang out at the old Erie Canal extension lock. They’ll soon have the option to walk or roll in on bicycles and even powered chairs to visit Canal Park near the outflow of Shenango Dam.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • balloonquest1 Balloon Quest celebrates 25 years

    Today is the final day of the 25th annual Western Pennsylvania Balloon Quest at Scotland Meadows Park.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo