National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce




Republican River Flood of 1935

A Closer Look at

Haigler, Nebraska


Back To Map Personal Stories Newspapers Accounts Photos Weather Data

Amount of Rain Measured -

Time Flood Impacted Haigler - 4:30 a.m. 1st crest, 11:30 a.m. 2nd crest.

River Depth at Haigler - 10.2 feet (1st crest) and 11.8 feet (2nd crest)

River Width at Haigler - 0.26 to 0.27 miles

Normal / Flood Width of River - 100 / 1350 feet

"The heavy rain in the vicinity of Haigler, Nebr., caused the river to rise during the night to a stage of 10.2 feet, which was reached about 4:30 a.m. This stage was of short duration, and by 8 a.m. it had fallen to 4 feet. At that time the flood from the upper river began to arrive, and by 11:30 a.m. the flood reached a stage of 11.8 feet, which was maintained for 3 hours. The fall was gradual from the crest discharge of 50, 000 second-feet. Being on high ground, the town of Haigler suffered little damage. The railroad and highway bridges west of Haigler were destroyed, and the river cut a new channel 300 feet wide and several hundred feet long, eliminating a bend in the old channel." From Follensbee and Spiegel, 1937, pg. 32. 



 Personal Stories from Haigler


From The Benkelman Post and News-Chronicle, Benkelman, NE, Friday, June 7, 1935.  

Fought Raging Torrent All Night With Result Doubtful

Jack Miller Staked His Life On Keeping Truck Out of River and Won by Inches

One of the most visid pictures of the flood's approach was given by Jack Miller of Benkelman who was returing from West of Haigler with his large frieght truck Thursday evening. The rain caught him far back on the hills and he said that it semmed that it came so fast that it actually crowded the breathing elements out of the atmosphere and the air became stifling.He crossed the highway bridge over the Arickaree and as he saw another roaring river on somewhat lower ground he stopped his truck, afraid to go any farther. He set the  brakes and prepared to wait for the water to recede. But instead it continued to rise. "I actually believe it rose five inches in ten minutes, " he said. He hadn't been there long before the water began shooting thru the opening of the floor boards around the gears and breaks. When the waves struck, it would shoot the stream of water up through these small openings clear to the top of the cab. Then debris began to settle behind the truck and it began moving towards the raging channels. Finding a stick in the the truck Hack got in the read of it and fought the debis from accumlatiing. But even then the truck moved at times, gradually getting closer to the channel. The water reached the top of the truck bed at last and it seemed like a losing fight to keep it from skidding but Jack stayed on the job and fought for his lide. From 9:30 Thursday evening until seven o'clock Friday morning he continued the battle and when the water receded sufficiently to wade and swim, he went to Haigler where help was given to him later in the day and thru the use of a caterpiller, the truck was finally brought to high ground. Had it been left there until the second high crest in the afternoon, it could not have been saved. "But it was a terrible experience," Jack said. "Sometimes I didn't think I could stand it any longer and watched always for something heavy to drift by that I could jump on to. Once a tree came almost close enough but it was caught in a whirling eddy back of the truck that seemed to detour all the heavier debris, and was carried too far away from me to reach it. I watched it as it hit the channel of the Arickaree and the force of the current dashed it fifteen feet high and then submerged it for a distance of over fifty yards. Nothing in the world could have stuck to it and furthermore it headed straight for th center of the main Republican channel. The night was intensely dark but almost constant lightning illuminated the skies so that one could see for a long distances at a time. As I set there and waited, Burlington passenger train No. 6 passed going east. I could have walked almost as fast as it was going over the Arickaree bridge. A hand car with lights was a few yards ahead of it. Doorrs and windows were open and people were peering out watching the flood. As the heavy train passed over it seemed to me that I could see the track settling and scarcely had the wheels of the last coach passed over the bridge before the water began surging over it in boundless torrents.  "I wonder," said Jack, "how many of the people peering out of that train realized how close they had been to death. There was enough water there to have submerged the entire train in ten minutes had the bridge and track given away with them at that minute. Then the train moved slowly into the Haigler yard, stopped for a minute, backed up a few feet and then returened to its snail-like movement down the tracks with the hand car still leading it. After the train had passed a groupd of section men came to the brige and apparently began cutting a way for the water to get thru. I knoew there was no way for them to rescue me but still the power of hope grows stronger with desperation and I thought I would call to them and attract their attention. Never before in my life had I any conception of what actual fear really was - the fear of almost certain death. Time after time I tried to should I could open my mouth but could not utter a sound. Realization of my condition seemed to add to the terrible fear I felt. Minutes passed like hours, hours like days. Finally I could see dawn breaking. The pounding, roaring unceaselessly plunging og the waves had effected my ears. Somehow I wondered if I had lost my sense of hearing entirely. As it grew lighter it wa apparent that the water was receeding although that roaring sound got louder and louder. From four o'clock to secen the water went down rapidly and when i was sure of this I left my place in the water filled truck bottom and climbed on the cab and remained there until I could get out.

"People told me about seeing folks riding roofs and things and shouting as they went down the river," Jack said. "I can fully understand the living death they were passing thru mentally, but I can't understand how they could shout. It seemed to impossible for me" he said.

At Haigler Jack joined Bert Medlock and the two of them attempted to drive to Benkelman but were forced to leave their car at the Cottonwood ranch where the bridge was washed out and walk to Benkelman between the rivers, coming across the North Fork south of Benkelman on the boat.

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 Newspaper Articles from Haigler

From High Water Mark

From the Haigler News, Thursday, June 6, 1935

Helps at River Crossing

If any one resident of Haigler stands out as putting in more effort to right flood conditions than any other, G. R. Johnson should be given that honor. Mr. Johnson voluntarily spent several days with a team at the crossing north of town assisting those needing supplies, etc., to get to town. Without hardly a pause he continued on the job after receding waters allowed any one to cross hauling passengers and goods to and from town. And it was no nice job either, as it entailed going around in wet clothing and wading in mud and water. Mr. Johnson is entitled to the thanks of Haigler buiness houses for his strenuous work.

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 Photos from the Area


 Haigler, NE 1935 Flood

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 Cooperative Weather Data

Monthly Weather form from Haigler - May 1935 (pdf)

River Flow Graphs

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