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Republican River Flood of 1935

A Closer Look at

Stratton, Nebraska


Back To Map Personal Stories Newspapers Accounts Photos Weather Data

Amount of Rain Measured - 3.35 inches on May 29, 1935

Time Flood Impacted Stratton- 9 am

River Depth at Stratton- 14 feet 

River Width at Stratton- 0.36 - 0.94 miles

Normal / Flood Width of River- 225 / 1900 feet


 Personal Stories from Stratton

Many of the older generation in Stratton recall a steam engine that went missing when the flood came. There has been some searching for it, but to no avail. They also remember the swimming hole that was south of the river that disappeared after the flood.

Warren Harrison recalls to grand-daughter Christina Henderson, when he was a kid, his dad, Elmer, took him and his twin brother Wayne to clean up the house of their relative Queen Harrison. Queen lived north of the railroad tracks on the west side of town and water had been pretty high up in the house. He also remembered that there was a house on the south side of the tracks that was on a little high land that wasn't underwater so much.

From Swept Away

At Stratton the light and water plant was crippled for a couple of days because of the wells caming in. Water flooded the soutwest section of town and washed out many bridges. The Diehl farm east of town was almost entirely under water, leaving it a desolate sandbar.

Car Washed Away! Roy Welch drove his car to Muddy Creek Friday morning. He parked it east of the bridge. Returning a few minutes later, he found water running over the road and he was unable to get the car out. Before a wreck could get to it, water had washed it away. Nothing had been seen of it since.

Hitchcock County Historical Society - From a letter written to E.S. Sutton of Benkelman

Memories of the Republican River Flood - May 30, 1935

by LeNeve Kyle, Stratton, Nebraska

We lived on a farm one mile north of Stratton on Hay Canyon, which empties into the Republican River east and south of Stratton. Normally it is a dry creek, except for some springs on our place, but on the night of May 30th, it was not.

Our family, my father, Henry Kyle, mother, Nellie, brother, Pharence and I had attended Memorial (Decoration) Day program, returned home in late afternoon, neer dreaming of what lay in store for the people in the Republican Valley that night.

The early 30's were rough years, depression, grasshoppers, dust storms and drouth. Crops and pastures burned to a crisp, with high winds every day, churning up the dust in Kansas and Oklahoma, and sending it out way. No rain, and when it did come, it came all at once.

That night it rained hard all night --like someone pouring it out of buckets. Hay Canyon is 10-12 miles long, so drains quite a territory, and in no time, the water was high and roaring by our house. The creek bed is deep and our house was on the high side of the canyon, so we did not worry about our safety, but it took fences, and the bridge on the main road into town.

The next morning a telephone call came from town, with news that my grandmother, Mrs. A. J. Reed, had been carried to safety by Joe Williams. She lived in the southwest part of Stratton and the Muddy Creek, just west of town had backed up and covered that area. The water got to the middle sills of the windows in her house.

We were stranded until the creek went down to get the horses which were on the other side. A team was hitched to a wason, and since we could not get to town the usual way, because the bridge was out, we went through pasture and fields, coming to Startton by the told standpipe and the school house. It was hard to believe what we saw. The usually mild and notvery-big Republican Rvier was a raging monster, sweeping everything it its' path. I'll never forget the clouds, dark, heavy, and sullen--so long it looked as tho' you could reach up and touch them.

The summer was spent cleaning up my grandmother's house and property. Dresser drawers were found out in the yard, upside fown with linens half buring in the mud, also slilverware. Laundry was done for days on end. Some furniture could be salvages, some could not. Mud was everywhere. It was in the bastement, in the house--the lawn was covered with slimy, sticky mud, which smelled bad. Finally, everything was in order, and grandmother moved back into her house.

When we looked at the valley after the waters had receeded, it was an incredible sight. It was bare. The huge cottonwood trees in the park south of town were gone. No one knew how long they had been there. No bridges across the river for miles in either direction. People living on the south side of the river, walked over a footbridge to get to town. Property and livestock damage was enormous and the loss of many lives was worst of all.

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 Newspaper Articles from Stratton

Click on the links below to view the pages of each newspaper edition with flood related articles.

Stratton News - June 6, 1935 (pdf - 5Mb file)

Stratton News - June 13, 1935 (pdf - 13Mb file)

Stratton News - June 20, 1935 (pdf - 2.5Mb file)>

From Swept Away (from Stratton News, June 13, 1935)

The flood hit the southwest part of Stratton. Only the giving way of the railroad bed kept the waters from rising even higher. There was no loss of life. Theirteen houses were flooded and occupants forced to flee. Most were taken out on rafts and boats. Few belongings could be saved. Water came from Muddy Creek which empties into the Republican river. The Muddy bridge remained in placed and was somewhat damaged.

The Burlington tracks and roadbed suffered heavy damage. The following families were forced to leave their homes. Paul Crew, George Henry Meguire, Joe McCormick, John Evans, Guy Boston, Fred Porter, Mrs. A. J. Reed, Frank Taunton, Q. R. Harrison, Sam Irelan, M. E. Hudson, Bert Donalson, J. E. Reckard. Houses were filled with water and mud and furnishings ruined. Frank Taunton lost 6 head of livestock. Most animals saved themselves by swimming to safety on the railroad track.

From the Benkelman Post Souvenir Edition


Tow Rope Breaks in Center of River and Women are Drowned

Heroic efforts of a rescue squad to rescue the Stonecipher family of Stratton from the raging currents of the Republican River last Friday failed and Mrs. Alva [Myrtle] Stonecipher, Mildred Stonecipher, 14, a daughter and Ethel Black, 18, a niece were drowned. Mr. Stonecipher and a son, Cleo were feeding livestock on their farm five miles east of Stratton when the flood waters hit. Mr. Stonecipher waded and swam to the house and Cleo took refuge on the barn roof. Rescue workers reached the son first and he was taken to safety. The boat was then sent back to the house and Mrs. Stonecipher and the two girls were put in the boat. In the process of towing the boat back to the bank the tow rope broke and the boat floated a few feet in the angry waves and then capsized and the three women drowned.

Jim Merrill, Stratton village marshal, is given credit for saving the lives of many of the occupants of Stratton when he waded and swam the flood waters to warm them of their peril.

Stratton was without lights for a short time Friday and Saturday in order that the water cooled engines might be stopped as a water conservation measure. One of the Stratton wells was damaged considerable and the other one was not capable of supplying enough water for the city purposes. Consumers are warned to boil water in prevention of typhiod fever.

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 Photos from the Area

 From Bluff-to-Bluff

 Flood moved Stonecipher house and sat it on end. Three family members lost their lives when they were leaving the house to seek safer grounds by means of a bour. The house is located 5 miles east of Stratton. Clarence and Marjorie Koch are here in the windown. (Picture courtesty of Glenn Clark now of Florida.)


From The Stratton News, Thursday, June 13, 1935



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 Cooperative Weather Data


River Flow Graphs

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