Canton’s ‘wild washing waters’ of 1886

1886 newspaper floodingIn a time when most relied on farming for their livelihood and for food to keep them alive, massive flooding in 1886 affected almost everyone in the Canton area. It was, by one account, “the largest, most extensive, the highest and the greatest ever known in this county.”

In early April, the Cherokee Advance published a round up of some of the damage, heralding the flooding worse than “the big freshet of 1854” and estimating damage to be near $1 million. The flooding came at a time when many farmers had already plowed and planted for the season, thus wiping out their work and putting the rest of the year in limbo.

Also destroyed or damaged were railroad tracks, fences, mills, dams, bridges and other structures and “a gang of pigs” lost.

No deaths were reported but two narrow escapes were recorded, as well as a mystery body, according to the April 9, 1886 edition of the Cherokee Advance. “John Honea came near losing his life by a boat capsizing” and:

“Dr. S.M. Harp, in attempting to cross the Etowah River at Steele’s Bridge, while the water was running across the road some distance from the bridge, rode into a deep hole and in swimming out, lost his ‘pill bags.’ He and others went back to look for his medicine case, a few days later, and found the skeleton of a man. None knew who it could be, nor how or when it came there.”

Read more about the individuals who reported damage in the newspaper article – part 1 and part 2. (click to enlarge)

(And check out the video of more flooding almost 80 years later)

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Posted in Newspaper, Pre-1900, Weather

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