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



Sharon Junior High School, now the Shenango Campus of Penn State University, and the old South Water Elementary School dismissed students early when water began backing up in toilets. Both schools had suffered extensive damage in earlier floods.

Junior high classes had to be moved to the senior high school, and the schools operated on split sessions.

But the worst was yet to come.

After floodwaters had inundated most of Wheatland and downtown Sharon, the higher temperatures gave way to a frigid wave that plummeted the mercury to the zero mark. Downtown Sharon became a solid mass of ice, several feet deep in some locations.

The ice added to the mounting damage, causing more damage than the swirling waters had. It pushed unyieldingly against walls, windows, doors and foundations. It obscured streets, sidewalks and parking lots. It poked its icy fingers into homes and stores in the low-lying areas.

It took a giant job with bulldozers to to remove large chunks of ice from the streets.

Even after the thaw, the ice that had crusted on parking meters in some of the city’s parking lots remained for awhile, giving an eerie appearace.

The social and sports life of the valley was not curtailed. The Shenango Valley Junior Woman’s Club went ahead with its scheduled “Follies” despite a few hairy moments in locating their props for the show.

Sharon and Farrell Section 3 basketball esaped without a cancellation with the Steelers making headway in the WPIAL race enroute to another state championship.

The damage estimate from the flood, the freeze and the thaw was set in excess of $6 million and probably was the biggest selling point to Congress for funds to build the Shenango Dam. The project had been pushed for years by late Sharpsville Burgess George Mahaney as a necessity to preserve the Shenango Valley.

U.S. Rep. Carroll D. Kearns, Farrell, introduced legislation in Congress for construction funds and the dam became a reality several years later.

The look into the past is nostalgic, but such events as the frozen flood and the problems it created are sometimes best forgotten.

Text Only
Local News
  • 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

  • News briefs from July 26, 2014

    Man faces bomb threat charges

    June building tops $4 million in Hermitage

    July 26, 2014

  • Elderly man survives plane crash

    An elderly man survived wrecking his plane into a bank, then landing into a wetland, about 200 feet south of Runway 28 at Grove City Regional Airport in Springfield Township on Friday.

    July 26, 2014

  • Dontae Rashad Pinkins Man arrested for April gunfight

    Federal marshals and local police arrested Dontae Rashad Pinkins Thursday on a warrant accusing him of involvement in an April gunfight with another man in a Sharon alley.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearing changed in starving case

    The time and place for the preliminary hearing of a Greenville mom accused of starving and beating her 7-year-old young son has been changed.

    July 26, 2014

  • 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