June 8, 20017
You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is about the “Flood of 1908”. On June 8, 1908 the local newspaper headlines read: “Bottom Land Along the Republican River Under Water – Many Fields Destroyed-Street Car Line Out of Business- Washington Bridge Damaged – North Span went out.” This was the damage inflicted on Geary County by the flood of 1908.
Shortly after midnight the rain began to pour down and continued for several hours for a total rainfall of 1 and 3/8 inches. However, a great deal of rain had fallen in the previous 12 hours in all parts of central Kansas. Saturday evening the Republican River stood at 13 feet and it was thought the crest of the flood had passed. However, by 11:00 it was at 15 feet and by 8:00 AM had reached 17 feet and remained stationary.
Water had been over the fields at Alida for several hours and was rising, causing great damage to the fields and killing some livestock. Between Junction City and Fort Riley, the Republican was now one-half mile wide and flowing with a terrific current. About 40 feet of the north approach of the Washington Street Bridge had gone out and the current was rushing through the gap.
By Sunday afternoon the local Union Pacific agent received word that the UP train number 104 eastbound would not come here. It would leave Abilene on the Santa Fe tracks to go to Kansas City. The Rock Island tracks between Manhattan and Topeka were under water and washed out in many places. Water was also over the Union Pacific tracks between Junction City and Fort Riley, and much damage would end up being done there.