Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Great Flood Of 1936

Debris from the flood waters accumulate at the old Holyoke Water Power Gatehouse as seen in this photo taken from Pulaski Park in March of 1936. The original Gatehouse  seen in the picture was torn down in the early 1960s to make way for the present facilities including the turbine building and fish lift.

This picture shows the flood waters covering the tracks of the
Boston & Maine Railroad in the vicinity of the Holyoke Cove. Notice how the "island" pictured in the left side extends towards Pulaski Park 22 years before the start of the construction of the Joseph E. Muller Bridge in 1958. Also seen in this picture is the old Ward Four area that was demolished as part of the Urban Renewal project of the early 1970s. The Edgewater Garden Condominiums are now located in this area.This photo was taken from the present day McNulty Park.
A view of the flood waters south of the Holyoke Water Power Gatehouse at the entrance to the First Level canal. The water level is only a few feet from the road bed of the old South Hadley Bridge which can be seen in the background. The flood destroyed South Hadley Falls and severely damaged South Holyoke and Springdale.

In March 1936, due to a winter with heavy snowfall, an early spring thaw and torrential rains, the Connecticut River flooded, overflowing its banks, destroying numerous bridges and isolating hundreds of people who had to be rescued by boat.

Unprecedented accumulated ice jams compounded the problems created by the flood, diverting water into unusual channels and damming the river, raising water levels even further.

When the jam at Hadley, Massachusetts gave way, the water crest overflowed the dam at Holyoke overwhelming the sandbagging there. The town of South Hadley Falls was essentially destroyed, and the southern parts of Holyoke were severely damaged, with 500 refugees.