Artifact Corner: 1856 Newspaper Article

Hi everyone, and welcome back to another slightly different artifact corner. This item is not something in our collections, it is a newspaper article. The Delord’s and the Hall’s were very avid newspaper readers, and always wanted to stay up to date with the news of our region, but also the nation and the world. With all of the rain we have been having this summer, and the flooding that has been happening around our region, we thought it might be interesting to take a look back and see if our predecessors had any major flooding. So, today we will be looking at a newspaper article from the Plattsburgh Republican dated October 4th, 1856. This article talks about a torrential rain fall that ultimately lead to some major flooding in Clinton County. The article reads as follows:

“The destructive equinoctial storm of rain which commenced about 8 o’clock on the evening of the 30th September, will long be remembered by the inhabitants of this part of the State. In this village and about us, on the Saranac, the rain fell in a continued sheet for about three hours—from 9 in the evening until 12. And although, the water rose very rapidly, and removed the drift-wood and old logs from the locations occupied in the Saranac River for the past twenty years, drifting them into booms prepared for their reception, yet but little damage was done on the stream, either to dams, mills or bridges, so far as we can learn. On the Ausable, the destruction of property was great. At Keeseville, the upper dam gave way at 7 o’clock in the morning, sweeping into ruins the saw-mills on each side of the river. All the gearing wheels and machinery in the lower part of Tabor & Co.’s grist-mill has been destroyed. Scribner & Co. have also been seriously injured in the damage to the stave factory. The new stone nail factory of the Messers. Kingslands is nearly destroyed. A number of the nail machines were saved by removal early in the morning; but at about 7am, the flood still rising, the end of the factory next to the river gave way, dashing into ruins one half the building, gearing and machinery. Next on the list for destruction was the machine shop of Messrs, Green & Conro. This whole establishment was nearly new, and built of stone in the most substantial manner. Soon after the fall of the nail factory, the machine shop gave way, and, with all its valuable lathes, tools and machinery, was a mass of floating ruins, A black- smith shop, with all its fixtures, owned by the same company, was next dashed to destruction. Coming down the river after the destruction of the swing-bridge, the forge and rolling-mill of the Messrs. Kingslands are seriously damaged. The bulk-bead having given way, the flood poured into the upper end of the rolling-mill and forge, doing immense injury—undermining and throwing down the furnaces, carrying out a part of the wall next the river, washing out the foundation, displacing and injuring the machinery, &c. The lower nail factory escaped uninjured. On the opposite side of the river, the flumes of N. Kingsland, and 0. Keese & Son are gone! The damage to N. Kingsland’s axle-tree establishment must be several hundred dollars. The new slaughter-house, barns and sheds, recently erected by Richard Hoag, have every vestige been destroyed and swept off. Mr. Hoag barely succeeded in saving several valuable horses, carriages, and several head of cattle, a few moments before the sheds and barns were floating to destruction, No lives were lost in, this immediate vicinity. The next serious damage is on the dam at Kingsland’s new rolling-mill, near the lower falls. Here, the bulk-head, end part of the dam, have been carried off. The forge is entirely demolish- ed, and also the bellows-house and blacksmith shop. The machinery in the rolling-mill is not injured, bat the furnaces and stacks are nearly de- stroyed, and about one-third of the building from the foundation to the roof has been carried off— The old saw-mill at Birmingham is gone. The bridge has been swept over the falls, and the property on the cast side of the river more or less damaged. A letter from Ausable Forks states that the damage to Messers. Rogers’ works was not so great as at first reported, though quite severe. Their rolling-mill dam On the east branch was swept a- way, with one Over-shot wheel, rolling-mill bridge, water conductor from west branch, with bulk- heads to same,—stone boarding-house, and four smaller dwelling-houses -on the flats below—Mr. Whitley’s office, an engine house and fire-engine, and a large quantity of foundry patterns. Nine persons are supposed to be drowned. There were several persons in the stone boarding-house, (a two; and a half story building,) when, in the midnight darkness, it was suddenly surrounded by the violent flood, undermined, and tumbled to pieces. The woman who kept the house, her two children, two servant girls, and a man of the name of Louis Dclerye, twelve years in the employ of Messrs, Rogers, were drowned. The family of Mr. D. were absent at the time. Two men had a most miraculous escape. They had climbed to the roof of the house, which floated down the river, and as it neared the bridge at New Sweden, both sprang for their lives, and reached the bridge in safety, and escaped to the shore. In a moment more the roof and bridge were dashed to pieces by the fury of the flood, and swept down the rapids. At New Sweden, the saw-mill and old forge on the south side of the river, were swept away, and the saw-mill, etc. on the north side, damaged. At Jay lower village, (6 miles above the Forks,) the damage is great Messrs. Purmorts lost their stock store, all their goods, forge, wheel-wright shop, carding and Cloth-dressing works, blacksmith shop, two coal-houses, coal, Bridge and dam carried away. At Clintonville, the works of the Peru Iron Company have been severely injured, the bridge is gone, the bank separating the canal to the forge from the river, is nearly washed away, the saw-mill is gone—also a portion of the nail factory. On the Salmon River, in this county, from Peaseleeville to its month, (a distance of 15 miles,) but one bridge stands, the Schuyler Falls bridge.”

We have seen some incredible images of the flooding from the Adirondacks and Vermont this summer. The extreme rainfall, in such short periods of time, have caused incredible damage in our region. This article from October of 1856 sounds eerily similar. The images used in this video are from more recent flooding in our area, as there are little to no images of the flooding in 1856. This article reminds us that we have had some seriously bad weather in our area for centuries, but the constant deluge this year has been particularly harsh. Fingers crossed for drier weather ahead, and as always, thanks so much for stopping by.

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
Free download:
License (CC BY 4.0):
Artist website: