‘Pumpkin Flood’ inundated properties of early York countians, but 1817 high water killed 10
High waters from the Pumpkin Food of 1784 pulled pumpkins downstream. This Lewis Miller drawing shows a later flood that caused other floating objects. High waters on Codorus Creek in York, Pa., in 1817, broke loose bottles from a brewhouse upstream. Miller notes that a young man jumped in and brought them to shore at old George Hay’s meadow at South Queen Street. Miller did not say what happened after the bottles were fetched. That flood was the most deadly on record in York County. Also of interest: A list of traumatic, painful incidents that rocked York County and Tropical Storm Agnes savaged York County with more than 15 inches of rain and What is the probability of another flood in York?
Another in a short series of past, significant meteorological events, tied to this winter’s big snows.
Many York countians remember the devastating flooding in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972.
Some seasoned citizens can recall that the overflow of the Codorus Creek and other streams in York County in 1933 caused such extensive damage that Depression-era channel work and Indian Rock Dam construction came as a result.
The flood of 1884 is marked in history books because of the extensive debris deposited by high waters on Small’s Field, north of York.
The 1822 flood, wreaking relatively minor damage compared to others, made the history books because of the prolonged drought thereafter.
At least three other floods made the history books for different reasons… .
The following information is gleaned from “Never to be Forgotten:”
The “ice flood,” an early dangerous Codorus Creek rising after the waterway’s shores were becoming increasingly populated, damaged property in its path. Water and ice rose to what one historian calls “an extraordinary height” before they subsided. Water damaged buildings, but none were destroyed.
Two years later, rain and high winds cause water to rise about 4 feet above the 1784 level. That flood took on the name “Pumpkin Flood’ after swift waters yanked immense quantities of pumpkins from their vines and swept them down the Susquehanna. They lodged in low places along the river.
Both floods destroyed all bridges over the Codorus.
But the deadliest flood ever in York County occurred in 1817.
In April of that year, a spring flood took the lives of 10 people.
One estimate placed the number of houses destroyed at 54; another close to 100.
“Nearly 50 families were nearly ruined,” one historian wrote. “In short many people worth from one to seven thousand dollars on Saturday morning were in a few hours reduced to poverty.”
Posts on meteorological phenomena:
– Ice upon ice pic tells chilly tale of York County’s 1996 blizzard.
– Tropical Storm Agnes savaged York County with more than 15 inches of rain.
– A list of traumatic, painful incidents that rocked York County.
Miller drawing courtesy York County Heritage Trust.