There’s been quite a lot written the past few weeks on the 100th anniversary of the 1913 flood. Ron Rollins of the Dayton Daily News came close when his article stated:
Indeed it wasn’t the catastrophe but the collective desire to fix it that should still resonate with us. When local corporate interests coincide with what’s best for the community, great things can happen.
National Cash Register president John Patterson continues to get acknowledgment for his contribution to the initial response. Less known is the contribution from George Verity. The Armco founder worked to secure a long term solution and played a pivotal role establishing the Miami Conservancy. But there were other very powerful people who suffered from high water. It was their concerted effort for a regional solution that still benefits the inhabitants of the Great Miami watershed today.
The governor of Ohio at the time of the flood was a former Middletown newspaper reporter from the nearby village of Jacksonburg. Jim Cox relied on his former boss, Paul Sorg for some startup cash to buy the struggling Dayton Daily News as he couldn’t get a loan from a bank. Cox had the Zuckerberg touch and created the local version of the Facebook of its day: a social society page written by women. His success came early and resulted in a magnificent, bank-like building for his office in downtown Dayton.
NCR, Armco and the Dayton Daily News were deluged and suffered huge losses from the Great Miami in March 1913. While we may congratulate the success of the Miami Conservancy for all who reside and work along its banks, let’s not lose sight of who was selected to design the solution.
Arthur Morgan was the self-taught artist who created the Miami Conservancy and deserves more than a passing mention. It was his hydraulic engineering and vision that still keeps us dry today at relatively low cost.
It was Morgan’s success with the Miami Conservancy that opened the door for his role as the Tennessee Valley Authority’s first director. Then later, he became president of the foundering Antioch College and turned it around. It would seem that Antioch is again today in the middle of a rebirth.
The Cincinnati area loves to claim a Binghamton, New York native as their own but was Antioch College that led him to southwest Ohio in the late 1940s.
So it was Cincinnati that gave Rod Serling his start.
Without Arthur Morgan’s response to a flood in late March 1913, we may never have known the Twilight Zone.