National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce



Republican River Flood of 1935

A Closer Look at

Max, Nebraska


Back To Map Personal Stories Newspapers Accounts Photos Weather Data

Amount of Rain Measured - estimated 5-6 inches

Time Flood Impacted Max - Between 7-9 am.

River Depth at Max - 13.8 feet

River Width at Max - 1.10 miles

Population in 1935 was 519.

Estimated Flood Damage : $900


 Personal Stories from Max

From Bluff-to-Bluff, page 76

J. H. Tracy remembered cowboys in the area who were told by an old Indian that every 100 years there would be a flood, bluff-to-bluff. He stated one of the most dangerous elements for searchers for missing bodies was the quicksand menace. It formed in holes where trees had been uprooted and at points where the water had formed a vacuum center during its mad rush. Lots of time searchers came on quicksand beds before they knew it. It was difficult for them to get themselves out from its grasp even though they knew the danger and were keeping a look-out for it.

Rattlesnakes were another menace. Thousands of them were washed from higher ground…They took refuge around tree roots and other points where debris gathered.

Ophal Riggs told about the Hosick family. They had a big garden south of the house. Two or three days after the flood it was so slick on top, but the wife felt safe to go see if anything was left in the garden. “She thought someone sure lost a shoe, and there was a man it. She ran to the house screaming for her husband. “ She had found the body of Orie Davis of Benkelman, Nebraska.

Mr. and Mrs. George Anderson and their daughter May had a narrow escape from their home located on the south side of the Republican River a mile west of the Max Bridge. During the high water the house was completely surrounded. The family took refuge in their attic, but during the second rise of water, at about 4 o’clock Friday morning Mr. Anderson was forced to chop a hole in the roof and the family escaped to the gable peak. “They had hardly established themselves on the gable until the house turned again and dropped into a hole some three hundred yards from the original home sight…The water flowed over the roof and around the Andersons almost up until the time they were rescued.”


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 Newspaper Articles from Max

From the report by Follansbee & Spiegel:

“Near Max a family trapped in their house came through safely because the builder had visualized possible flood conditions and reinforced the walls of the frame structure and anchored it to the concrete foundation by dozens of bolts. It withstood the flood safely.”

From the Benkelman Post Souvenir Edition:

Max people thought for time that Mrs. Cordwell and her children who were living on the south side of the river east of Max were lost Friday afternoon. Torrents ripped around the dwelling for hours. Spectators watched the oldest boy attempt to ride a horse out. Both he and the horse disappeared. Later the horse showed up, but not the boy. The house stood like a rock. They found later the boy had swum to a window and got in safely.

People recalled that J.B. Brethower, who built the house, took extra precautions to make it safe in case of flood. He reinforced the basement walls and placed dozens of bolts in the concrete to which the framework was anchored.

From High Water Mark by Raymond Borchers Page 31

“E. B. Styer of Lincoln, Nebraska wrote Jacob Bauer to say, “In digging wells I found that the original river bottom at Max was about fifteen feet under the present surface and that the second established soil surface was about six feet below the street grade, indicating that such floods had taken place at least twice.”

Page 46

“And here again is challenged the power of words to express the heart rending sorrow that the tragedy of the floods have brought to so many of our people during the past few days. Silent is their approach, colossal is their power, relentless in their purpose and terrible in their consequences. What a black cloud of sorrow they have cast over our community!” How irreparable is the loss in human life they have taken. Entire families have been claimed and fragments of families have been left to mourn the passing of brave, heroic and courageous loved ones.

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 Photos from the Area



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 Cooperative Weather Data


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