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The Great Flood of 1908

By Frank Chamberlain

One of the most destructive floods in Erath history occurred on April 17 and 18, 1908. These rains caused widespread damage throughout the county and many other areas of the North Texas region. Although numerous people were left homeless in the area, farmers were hit particularly hard, as the waters literally washed away barns, fences, and countless acres of topsoil. Many farmers lost thousands of dollars in crops and some had virtually their entire stock ruined. Others suffered the additional loss of livestock. One area man reported that twenty-two of his goats perished in the deluge, and several others lost cattle. In an especially distressing incident, a local minister had one hundred of his beloved chickens swept away by the raging waters. Perhaps the only positive result of the flooding was that the rising waters caused many fish to become stranded, thus providing easy food for many area residents. One man reportedly found a fifty-pound catfish that had become tangled in the debris caused by the rising and subsiding water.

The rains crippled most of the area railroads, as the flood washed out many bridges and tracks. Several towns, such as Mineral Wells, were virtually isolated by the waters. Travel and commerce between towns was halted for days while the railroads were being repaired and telephone lines reestablished. Many areas lost electricity as well. The area creeks and rivers overflowed to the point that most were impassable. Travelers were forced to take circuitous routes in order to return to the region or delay their return until the damage was repaired.

“And The Floods Came”, Stephenville Empire-Tribune, April 24, 1908.

“5 Iron Bridges Go Out On T.C.; Wires Are Down”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 19, 1908.

“Bridges Go Out; Thru Traffic On T-P West Stopped”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 18, 1908.

“Personals” section, Stephenville Empire-Tribune, April 24, 1908.

“Personals” section, Stephenville Empire-Tribune, May 1, 1908.