remnants of the 1913 Great Miami Flood: the Conservancy, the TVA and the Twilight Zone

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:

Response to the flood is what mattered

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.

American Rolling Mill Company, Curtis Street, March 1913

American Rolling Mill Company, Curtis Street, March 1913

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.

American Rolling Mill Company, Curtis Street March 19131913 Flood Curtis Street 2

American Rolling Mill Company, Curtis Street March 1913

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.

George Verity & James Cox, Verity Day, June 6, 1936

George Verity & James Cox, Verity Day, June 6, 1936

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.

ArthurMorgan

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.

WLW gave him his first full time job after co-oping at a few radio stations through Antioch.  He moved from radio to television when he took a job at Cincinnati’s WKRC as a writer.

So it was Cincinnati that gave Rod Serling his start.

rod serling

Without Arthur Morgan’s response to a flood in late March 1913, we may never have known the Twilight Zone.

One comment

  • April 1, 2013 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    Wow, the connections here are ridiculous. Two thoughts on this:

    1. Scary how one thing can lead to another. It is almost scary how random life can seem.
    2. Innovation & progress is often the result of struggle.

    Super insightful! Thank you.

  • Leave a Reply