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Encyclopedia Dubuque


FLOODS (Record)

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A flooded parking lot at Dubuque Greyhound Park and Casino reminds residents of past floods.
FLOODS (Record) The highest flood to wreak havoc on Dubuque occurred on April 26, 1965, when the river crested at 26.81 feet. The underlying cause of the flood was an abnormally cold winter which prevented the melting of an excessive snow cover in the upper reaches of the basin. Heavy rains late in March followed by rapid melting triggered the runoff which caused the floods. (1) The great flood of 1965 on the Mississippi River, along the eastern border if the State, exceeded any flood known in 139 years. It cause damages probably in excess of ten millions of dollars in the State of Iowa. (2)

Rushing into Dubuque at the rate of 3,000,000 gallons per second, depths of water reached seven feet on some streets. (3) An estimated two dozen businesses were closed or had to be relocated. (4) Schools closed as an estimated 3,500 volunteers filled an estimated 400,000 of sandbags. (5)

The record 1965 flood left the Packers, Dubuque's professional BASEBALL team, without a home field for forty-one days. Home games were played in Cascade or Dyersville for nearly one-fourth of the home season.

The damage led to the construction of a 6.5 mile long FLOOD WALL thirty-three feet high along the riverfront. Other record floods in Dubuque include:

Aerial view showing downtown flooding in 1965
Flooding near the Julien Dubuque Bridge--note sandbags

Date-----------------River Crest

April 23, 1969-------------23.1ft.

May 6, 1975---------------22.8ft.

April 25, 1952-------------22.7ft.

April 22, 1951-------------22.7ft.

October 6,1986-----------21.7ft.

October 24-25, 1881----21.2ft.

September 20, 1938----20.6ft.

Dubuque's history of flooding may be considered to begin on July 4, 1876 when a flash flood wiped out Rockdale along the banks of CATFISH CREEK. Witnesses claimed it took only 30 minutes for the waters to wipe out the village and kill 41 people.

The flood at UNION PARK on July 9, 1919 caused the death of five people. Although the park was rebuilt, the former grandeur of the site was never recaptured.

On March 22, 1920 the MISSISSIPPI RIVER rose 4.5 feet in 48 hours in Dubuque. Citizens were warned about thousands of rats driven from the sewers by the rising waters. Trees were filled with carcasses of livestock by the receding waters.

April 22, 1951 flood around the Page Hotel. Unpublished photo courtesy: Bob Reding
April 22, 1951 flood showing the Adams Company. Unpublished photo courtesy: Bob Reding
The small marker on this building at 5 Jones Street is really a marker of history.
This is why the marker has importance.

1965 Flood Video--https://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play;_ylt=A2KLqIKm6K5WtTIA1e00nIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTByZWc0dGJtBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDBGdwb3MDMQ--?p=Dubuque+Flood+%281965%29&vid=e608b2166ef7d22d8f2713dad953e4d5&turl=http%3A%2F%2Ftse2.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOVP.V2adc2d9ae0130e5a1bdfdae059d8c5ee%26pid%3D15.1%26h%3D168%26w%3D300%26c%3D7%26rs%3D1&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D8yexUz53B-8&tit=Dubuque+1965+Flood&c=0&h=168&w=300&l=222&sigr=11bltt5o3&sigt=10iqm68e6&sigi=131tknb7b&age=1391147701&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Av&fr=yhs-iry-fullyhosted_011&hsimp=yhs-fullyhosted_011&hspart=iry&tt=b



1. U. S. Geological Survey. Online: https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/ofr65145

2. Ibid.

3. Barton, Thomas J. " The Big One: Dubuquers Recall the Massive Flood of 1965," Telegraph Herald, April 26, 2015, Online: http://www.thonline.com/news/tri-state/article_6d7743c8-5bdb-5309-9494-2eb0d0bed9cd.html?sp-tk=4028FCD9FB08CA449E7720D7E345F956581C28FA53EDF73AFB070EA18C33F5B7DE3CB7C74AB4A0CE05B9918A6EEA4E3A754029B4CA6A89B06064E7EA4476E0ABC99707FD3E726BDBD7759544D3AFED7221C79B07E9D01834A6A42951AB2992DE31641DB0D6AD45DAD8B5604A74874FBFA293606C28F781571BEB6E8AABF5CA26059059903E400A22C02D87A33560B63544626B8B

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

175 Years, Volume Three, Telegraph Herald, September 15, 2008