Historical & Art Museum
The 1923 Houlton Flood
From all sections of Maine come reports of very serious losses and extremely grave conditions as the result of heavy rains of Saturday and Sunday.
Starting with great violence Saturday evening the rains, accompanied by a 50-mile gale caused disasters at sea and on land. Dams and bridges have been swept away, railroad transportation disrupted, dwellings inundated and industries compelled to shut down.
Rain commenced falling Saturday afternoon and continued for 24 hours during Sunday afternoon it stopped for a time and then during the Sunday night it came down in torrents, continuing until the middle of Monday.
Locally news there was much damage, the Brook house on Court St. was surrounded with water, on Brook St. Pearce Brook overflowed the road, and on Columbia St. the water washed out the fill on the west side of the bridge, which closed this to traffic.
The short cut bridge to the B & A near the old Titcomb mill, passed on.
Ingraham’s Garage had a full supply of water backing up from the river. The Woolen Mill had three feet of water in the basement and had to shut down, a part of Watson factory was let down owing to the corner of one of the piers which held it giving way.
The Riley house where Mrs. Jack Riley lived as well as the Albright house had to be vacated on account of the arising floods.
The Town wood yard near the Highland Ave. bridge was flooded and some wood went down stream.
The Highland Ave bridge was closed due to a log jam on the piers which broke the main sewer which runs on top of the piers. The basement of the new Armory was filled with water and the house of David Adams was surrounded.
Cooks brook on the Foxcroft road overflowed the road and the high water on the Hodgdon stream made it necessary to close the Cary’s Mill bridge as well as the one to Porter Settlement.
The street sewers were plugged in many places but superintendent of streets Fortier had crews of men working all day Sunday and Monday endeavoring to clean them out, which was in most cases successful.
A.P. Bennett of Linneus stated to the TIMES that from Saturday night until Monday morning four inches of rain had fell, the most recorded since the Civil War.
Much damage was done in the northern part of the County to bridges and culverts, although the B & A was running trains from Houlton north.
The bridge that crossed the south branch of the Meduxnekeag, built by Harry R. Burleigh, went out at noon, Monday and went down stream, striking the Union Square bridge and then passed on breaking up some after going over the dam. When it stuck the Highland Ave bridge it made that structure tremble from the end to end and then passed on to the St. John river.
The bridge at the Boundary line went out Monday and took with it two other covered bridges on the way to the St. John river.
The Van Wart Mill with all machinery was swept away.
The old dam below the starch factory at Monticello went out Monday morning and the bridge showed signs of weakening from one of the piers being undermined.
The Meduxnekeag stream continued its damage as far as Woodstock where the water took out the bridge that enters the business section, and with it the Grist Mill, the lumber from the Smith Lumber Yard, at the Packing house, and six small houses.