1973 Flood Waterlogs Pattonsburg

Daviess County is rebounding from the most severe flooding of the Grand River since the 1947 flood. Pattonsburg was hard hit this time with three-fourths of the community under water for about three days; farmers all along the river are suffering varying degrees of crop damage.

Accurate estimates of flood damage are hard to come by. Figures suppied by the ASC office to government officials indicate $3 to $4 million in crop damage and another million in damage to property, machinery, etc. But at least one bank official in the county said that, in his opinion, the total damage could approach $10 million or more.

This aerial photo was taken when flooding was near its crest with 9 uptown businesses and homes throughout Pattonsburg damaged by flood waters.

The American Red Cross made a tour of Pattonsburg and came up with 35 homes with major damage, 70 homes with lesser damage, and 14 mobile homes with major damage.

The crop damage is not confined only to those crops in the bottoms — but also to those crops on higher ground which were thoroughly soaked by the heavy rain which caused the flooding. The flooding resulted from heavy rain to the north wne west which descended on the county via Grand River, Grindstone, Sampson and Big Creek. The amount of rainfall above Daviess County varied from 4 to 6 inches on ground previously saturated from heavy rain.

A number of people were evacuated by boat while some merely walked through the water; in some areas of Pattonsburg the water rose to about four feet or higher. During the height of the flooding, the only entry into Pattonsburg was by boat or walking the railroad tracks. Hundreds of sightseers gathered.

A wide area of Northwest Missouri was declared a disaster area by Gov. Kit Bond and federal government designations are also anticipated.

At Gallatin, the water rose into the MFA and also into Froman Elevator areas east of the river for the first time since it was built. Water crept into the city’s sewage treatment plant settling basins. A sand plant and new ready-mix plant equipment were all under water.

The river’s crest nearly equaled the mark set in 1947 in some locations but fell short in others. It is believed this is due to the location of the tributaries which fed the flood, as well as the contour of the land which has drastically altered since 1947 by drainage projects and commercial uses.

At Jameson, the high water makres of prior floods in 1909 and 1947 were not approached — the level of the water at the Lewis Mill Bridge, for example, lacking 32 inches of hitting the 1947 mark.

Leland Stitt looks on the rising flood waters of the Grand River, standing on the Lewis Mill Bridge near Jameson. On the bridge beam, above the arm of Dale Alexander, is the high water mark of the 1909 flood; below his arm is the high water mark of the 1947 flood. The 1973 flood crest was approximately 32 inches lower than the 1909 mark.

The major flooding has left the county and areas from Livingston County south to the river’s mouth at flood stage. Fortunately, the rain to the south was not nearly as heavy as in the north — had it been, the losses would have been far worse. As it is, the Grand River was spread all over the bottom from Albany to Brunswick.

There are two ironies connected wit the flood. The first was that Congress approved an immediate start on the reservoir project on Friday, not being aware that a serious flood was in progress as they voted.

The second irony was that the S.O.S. organization, which had invited city people to come up Sundy for a tour of the area as part of their strategy to get public opinion against the reservoir, had to postpone the even because of flooding.

Congressman Jerry Litton has kept in close touch with the river situation, having suffered personal losses in the past floods himself. He flew over the flooded areas last weekend and had photos taken of the flood. He has requested President Nixon to declare the region a disaster area and provide federal disaster relief programs and benefits.

–taken from the Gallatin North Missourian Oct. 18, 1973

Unusual Weather, Flood Stages Recorded

The year of 1936 was remarkable for the grasshoppers eating all vegetation, including the bark off trees. The following year was also a “grasshopper” year. But 1937 is remembered for another weather-related hardship. Daviess County was covered with a heavy coat of ice for 5 consecutive weeks — the ice was 5 inches thick!

On May 3, 1943, it began raining and rainfall didn’t stop for three weeks. Water overflowed into the Grand River bottoms. By June 11, 1943, the river reached the 28-ft. flood stage. It rained on Easter Sunday (April 25, 1943) and rained on seven consecutive Sundays.

On Dec. 18, 1945, Daviess County endured a 9-inch snowfall with the temperature at 11 degrees below zero.

Snowfall on Dec. 23-24, 1958, measured 15 inches deep with temperatures at 22 degrees below zero.

July 1975 was the driest July since 1888, according to an article published in the Kansas City Times. Only .25 of an inch of rainfall was recorded at the weather station at Kansas City International Airport, breaking the prvious dry record of .36 of an inch set in July, 1936. Average precipitation for this month, according to the National Weather Service, is 4.37 inches.


The following flood stage measurements, spanning 42 years, were recorded by Mrs. Russ (Alma) Wilson for local records:

  • July 7, 1909 — 39.06 feet
  • July 2, 1915 — 36.06 feet
  • May 15, 1916 — 34.0 feet
  • May 28, 1917 — 36.0 feet
  • March 16, 1919 — 34.03 feet
  • April 11, 1919 — 25.0 feet
  • May 5, 1919 — 34.03 feet
  • June 5, 1919 — 34.03 feet
  • March 27, 1920 — 27.04 feet
  • July 12, 1922 — 36.05 feet
  • July 1, 1924 — 30.05 feet
  • Sept. 17, 1926 — 36.09 feet
  • Oct. 5, 1926 — 34.03 feet
  • April 21, 1927 — 33.0 feet
  • June 4, 1927 — 30.0 feet
  • June 19, 1928 — 29.07 feet
  • July 24, 1928 — 32.08 feet
  • Sept. 15, 1928 — 31.04 feet
  • Oct. 18, 1928 — 30.0 feet
  • Nov. 19, 1928 — 35.05 feet
  • April 4, 1929 — 33.06 feet
  • June 2, 1929 — 37.07 feet
  • July 7, 2919 — 33.07 feet
  • Nov. 16, 1931 — 29.03 feet
  • Nov. 25, 1931 — 33.0 feet
  • Jan. 2, 1932 — 32.0 feet
  • June, 1935 — over high bottoms
  • June 11, 1941 — 27.04 feet
  • June 22, 1942 — 31.05 feet
  • May 5, 1943 — over low bottoms
  • June 11, 1943 — 28.0 feet
  • April 24, 1944 — 31.05 feet
  • May 17, 1945 — 30.03 feet
  • April 26, 1945 — 28.06 feet
  • Jan. 8, 1946 — over low bottoms
  • June 8, 1947 — 33.03 feet
  • June 22, 1947 — 34.85 feet
  • July 7, 1951 — 28.0 feet
  • Oct. 13, 1973 — 32 feet