G.H. Porter went with the flow, and it was a terrifying experience.
The Grubb Springs area farmer had just started to ford Crooked Creek in his horse-drawn wagon when a sudden rise in the water swept him away. For several hundred feet the swift waters carried Porter and his team and wagon down the creek. Porter then managed to grab a bush and pull himself to safety. His team and wagon, though, were washed downstream. The drowned horses were later seen passing through Harrison.
Porter’s nightmare experience was the result of what the Harrison Daily Times called “the most tremendous cloudburst in history.” From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 11, 1924, Harrison was the scene of “the largest downpour of rain on record in the city.”
By noon, the story went on to say, Crooked Creek was a river that reached from the south side of the square on one side to the hills of Woodland Heights on the other. Dry Jordan Creek, which emptied into Crooked Creek, became so flooded that water washed away a pedestrian bridge that led to the depot.
According to the Daily Times, Crooked Creek and Dry Jordan “combined their waters to make a perfect sea in the neighborhood of the shops.” A switch engine was used to pull several cars out of the water near the depot.
“Barrels, boxes, ties and various timbers…were seen in the swirling waters that swept in the vortex below the big railroad bridge east of the city.”
Accounts of the flash flood said that gardens, small buildings, coops and pens and loose timber were carried away, but no lives (at least not human lives) were lost, but “several thrilling rescues were made.”
By mid-afternoon, east Stephenson Avenue was part of Crooked Creek. The water was two to three inches deep in the City Grocery and had entered the front of the Watkins Drug Store on the southeast corner of the square.
At the W. P. Glass Motor Company, men working in water waist deep moved 50 cars to keep them from being washed away.
The rising water forced George McKinney to abandon his car on Stephenson Avenue. He managed to carry Lily Mae Staten to safety just before “the onrushing torrent caught the car” and carried it into Crooked Creek.
Walter Lovett had a cottage, described as a “substantial structure of some six rooms,” on the banks of Dry Jordan. The flood waters moved it 20 feet off of its foundation before it was caught by a tree.
A row of houses on the west side of Spring Street in south Harrison were all immersed in water.
The high water reached the Boone County Jail, but the prisoners were safe in the upper story.
The Harrison Electric Company was protected by a flood wall, and the plant continued to provide service despite being practically in the middle of the turbulent creek. The plant could be reached only by boat, but employees continued to operate the machinery needed to provide power to the city.
A number of animals were casualties of the flood. A “beautiful white jersey cow” was seen going down the creek at one point. Bystanders also reported seeing two mules struggling in the water as they passed under a bridge.
By late afternoon, the waters started receding, leaving untold damage to area farms.
The Missouri & North Arkansas Railroad reported that the floods had damaged several small bridges and culverts. Service was expected to be delayed about 36 hours while repairs were made.
This is article is part of a series about Boone County history and provided by the Boone County Heritage Museum. The museum is located at 124 South Cherry in Harrison. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. Closed on Sunday and Wednesday. For more information on the museum, call 741-3312 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.