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January 10, 2021

Incredible Photos of the 1937 Harrisburg Flood

The Ohio River flooded for about three weeks in early 1937, leaving one million people homeless and 385 dead throughout a five-state area. Federal and state resources were strained to aid recovery as the disaster occurred during the depths of the Great Depression and a few years after the beginning of the Dust Bowl.

Harrisburg is a small town in southern Illinois. It is 30 miles from the Ohio River, but the floodwaters of 1937 were so extensive that the town was almost completely destroyed. At the time of the flood, Harrisburg had 13,000 residents: 10,000 were stranded for weeks in the small central hill section of the town; 80% of the town was underwater; after the flood water receded, 4,000 were left homeless.

These incredible photos from Victoria Pickering were taken by her grandparents Virginia Lee Morris and John Leslie Pickering, Harrisburg residents that show Harrisburg was almost wiped out by the 1937 Ohio River flood.

Harrisburg, Illinois was almost wiped out by the 1937 Ohio River Flood

Big 4 Depo

Gas Plant

Lee’s Tin Shop taken from Logan St.

Looking east on Church St.

Looking east on Locust St.

Looking north on Jackson St.

Looking north on Main St.

Looking north on McKinley St.

Looking south on Granger St.

Looking south on McKinley St.

Looking west on Church St.

N. Main St.

S. Main St. car ferry

Sahara Mine #3

Sahara Mine machine shops


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