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March 23, 1913 - when the Riley flooded Bluffton

Plus photos of Ada and Ottawa under water

While crossing our fingers in hopes that the Riley Creek floods are a thing of the past, today marks the 111th anniversary of the earlier recorded Bluffton flood. It took place from March 23 to 26, 1913.

This flood became so devastating that it had a name: The Great Flood of 1913. It’s also called Ohio’s greatest natural disaster.


We’ve featured stories and photos of this flood in past years. This time around we also provide photos of 1913 flood in Ada, plus a rare 1883 flood photo from Ottawa.

This photo below shows the old iron bridge on North Main Street near the Buckeye. In the background are the old Kimmell Planing Mill and a residence which stands on the spot of the former Hauenstein residents directly south of the old railroad depot.

Below is a photo of the swollen Riley Creek on Cherry Street at the height of the flood. How was this photo taken? In a boat? We don’t know.

The building slightly visible on the left today is Village Cut ‘N’ Curl, 207 Cherry Street. In 1913 the Cut ‘N’ Curl building and the building connected to it was the Ed Jones Furniture Store.


The center building was the Phillip Wilch buggy shop. The two-story building on the far right was a Triplett storage building.

Believe it or not, a fire occurred in the storage building during the height of the flood, believed to be caused by a short circuit. The Bluffton fire department somehow put out the fire.


George Combs, undertaker, later joined Ed Jones and their two businesses moved to Main Street and the business became Jones and Combs. Today that building houses The Food Store, 103 N. Main St.


Following the Jones store move from Cherry Street, T.A. Kitchen used the two Cherry Street buildings as an agency for the International Harvester Co. The site later became Monroe Amstutz Auto-Salvage lot.


Harold Rau later owned much of this property and the land was a mobile home park. The most recent flood destroyed that park and today it is a vacant lot.

Photos below show more high-water marks

•Photos of the Bluffton flood

• Photos of Ada

• A rare 1883 Ottawa flood


A previously never-published photo of the 1913 Bluffton flood. The location is not known - from the Ray Mumma collection.

The photo below show the entire image of the photo enlarged above.

Cherry Street at Vance Street

The above scene today

Englargement of the 1913 photo

The following photos are from the 1913 flood in Ada

Main Street Ada

Main Street Ada

Ada residential street

Ada residential street

South Gilbert Street, Ada

Main Street Ada

Here's a much earlier flood - Ottawa's 1883 flood - which meant 24 hours before Ottawa flooded so did Bluffton. We have no photos of Bluffton's 1883 flood.



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