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
  • Schell working on mural Drawn to Mexico

    Jason Schell probably is not exaggerating when he says that millions of people have seen his art.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • Farrell man, 24, arrested on warrant in connection with April shooting

    Federal marshals and local police arrested Dontae Rashad Pinkins Thursday on a warrant accusing him of involvement in an April shootout in Sharon.


    Pinkins, 24, of Farrell, is in Mercer County Jail after failing to post bond on gun charges.

    Additional details to follow.
     

    July 25, 2014

  • Firm will study timing of traffic signals

    Hermitage commissioners on Wednesday hired Whitman, Requardt and Associates LLP to study the timing scheme of traffic signals along parts of Hermitage Road and East State Street.

    July 25, 2014

  • 3 area fire depts. awarded grants

    Three area fire departments will share in more than $590,000 in grants meant to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities guard against the threat of fires in forests and other undeveloped areas, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti announced.

    July 25, 2014

  • One suspect in home shooting is jailed

    The first of three suspects police say were involved in an attempted robbery that ended in a shooting is in jail.

    July 25, 2014

  • Dancing kids K.I.D.S. day

    Hoping to reach children at just the right age, when they are old enough to understand but not past the point where it may be too late, Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission counselors held an “alternative activities” day at the courthouse Thursday, complete with music and dancing, hot dogs and treats, games and T-shirts.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Better security Grant available to boost security in district courts

    County officials are looking to quickly upgrade security systems in the five district judge offices, not due to an increase in risk, but because current systems are antiquated and there is a short window to apply for some financial help with the costs.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Officials split over selling older monitors

    What to do with a pile of older LCD computer monitors, keyboards and mice remains up in the air until the third, and often absent, county commissioner makes a decision.

    July 24, 2014

  • Police anxious to talk with victim

    Sharon police want to talk to a West Hill man about several other men who came to his house shortly before he was shot and critically wounded Tuesday.

    July 24, 2014

  • AED presentation Heart-friendly pool

    The Lackawannock-Shenango-West Middlesex Pool has some pretty obvious changes from when it was opened almost 46 years ago.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Sharon man 'stable' after being shot in his West Hill home

    A Sharon man was in stable condition this morning after being shot by one of several men he had let into his West Hill home, police said.

    July 23, 2014

  • GJR killer not eligible for parole, court rules

    State Superior Court on Tuesday reversed a local judge’s decision that the sentence for one of two men who killed a night supervisor at George Junior Republic, Pine Township, was unconstitutional.

    July 23, 2014

  • Duplicated files, former worker confesses

    A Mercer woman accused of stealing customer lists, billing information and other data from her former employer headed off trial Monday by pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful duplication.

    July 23, 2014

  • Starved house Vandals vent their emotions

    Vandals kept police busy Sunday and Monday nights at a home in Greenville where the Mercer County District Attorney’s office said a boy was starved and beaten by his mom.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014