My Grandfather was seventeen-years-old when the city of Louisville was swallowed alive by the surging waters of the Ohio some seven decades ago. The pictures are old and grainy – depicting a Louisville in a faded mantle of sepia and smoke that looks so unfamiliar to the streets we now traipse by heart. I pass flood markers everyday on my bus trek to work, shifting a sleepy gaze on the tin sign bolted to the corner streetlight of 4th and York. The water level was high; the bottom of the sign grazing a measurement well into a comfortable swimming level. It’s unfathomable (no pun intended) to imagine such a deluge, and so very difficult to properly appreciate the extraordinary lengths taken by Louisvillians so many generations ago.
In the wake of the seventy-fifth anniversary of The Great Flood of 1937 – Louisville’s grandest and most devastating natural disaster of the 20th Century – the Louisville Free Public Library will host a panel discussion with a team of local historians, authors and journalists this upcoming Tuesday, February 7th at 7pm at the Main branch. Focusing both on the incredible destruction incurred from the water’s wrath and the monumental efforts taken by civilians and officials alike, the panel will be led by Rick Bell, historian and author of the book The Great Flood of 1937. Joining him in the discussion will be Courier-Journal Page Editor, Keith Runyon, Kelley Dearing-Smith of Louisville Water, local historian, Jay Ferguson and the Library’s own Kentucky History Librarian, Joe Hardesty. Together, these 5 minds will explore the many aspects of the Flood and its impact, sharing rare photos, discussing the roll of the media, how the city was supplied with fresh drinking water and how to research information on the Flood in the Library.
Commemorate the anniversary of Louisville’s Great Flood with some great minds. Join the Library for The Great Flood: Remarkable Stories of How Louisville Managed and investigate the many stories behind this grand disaster. This event is, as always, free and open to the public; no tickets are required.
The Louisville Free Public Library’s Main branch is located at 301 York Street
For more information, visit the Library’s website
Photo: Courtesy of the National Weather Service Forecast Office website www.crh.noaa.gov