Some Were High...And Not So Dry
Specia l Issue only
Flood25.4of 1965 feet
Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
McGregor & Marquette, Iowa A Look Back at the Flood that Changed Our Area
Page 2 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Capturing a memorable chapter from our past Courier Press and North Iowa Times collaborate for special booklet
If a picture is worth a thousand words, the Courier Press’ and North Iowa Times’ new booklet on The Great Flood of 1965 speaks volumes. To look back at pictures from 50 years ago— and see the flood’s devastation—is heartbreaking. To hear people’s personal accounts of sandbagging, evacuating, cleaning up and, in some cases, even transplanting their lives from what is now St. Feriole Island, demonstrates the inspiring rise of the human spirit. As the calendar rolled over to 2015, the enormity of this historic flood became evident to our staff. For months, the editors, advertising salespeople, graphic designer and typesetters have been busy preparing to publish this special keepsake piece. We’ve sorted through files of our own old photographs and some from our readers, scanned and tweaked those images, interviewed people who experienced the flood and its aftermath firsthand, scoured periodicals for details such as statistics and photo identification information, compiled news clippings from our 1965 archives, and generally worked to raise community interest in this booklet. Before you now is the final result of our earnest dedication to telling the unforgettable stories of five decades ago, and their connections to today. Through the pictures and articles you’ll
see in these pages, our intention was to highlight the many diverse perspectives of the events that unfolded before, during and after the flood. We would be remiss if we didn’t extend our sincere gratitude to the community members who lent us their memories, historical resources, and time so that we could produce this quality booklet of record. The Great Flood of 1965 was an incredible and consequential moment in our history. It left Prairie du Chien, Marquette, McGregor and the surrounding river communities forever changed. Our goal is to capture a memorable chapter from our communities’ past and preserve some of that history for today’s readers as well as for the generations of the future. We hope you appreciate the value of this commemorative booklet and enjoy sharing it. The Great Flood of 1965 Courier Press and North Iowa Times staff - 2015 Gary Howe, Correne Martin, Ted Pennekamp, Audrey Posten, Lori Heisz, Kim Corpian, Susie Myers, Sarah Hohlfeld, Gloria Kapp, Steve Weipert, Tara VanNatta, Sharon Tesar and Denny Riebe.
March 24, 1965
Possibility of floods, high water predicted Potential spring problems continue to grow with each snowstorm. Early forecasts of high waters are now being confined to the actual footage to be expected for this area. Flooding or high waters can be expected on the Mississippi,Wisconsin and Kickapoo rivers in this area. River specialists are revising their figures for the anticipated runoff. The veteran river men claim this is the year for high waters which might easily reach flood stage. This fall the local predictors looked at the worms, birds and muskrats and stated this spring would be the one of higher river levels. Presently the early runoff has created some problems. During the past week the area rivers have continued to drop to safer levels. Heavy snow and ice cover will cease some problems as the local predic-
tors claim the break will be later and quick. The Federal reports have not stated this in their reports. Kickapoo river floods are always a hazard to Gays Mills and Soldiers Grove. The delicate balance of flood and melting snows will govern the damage of troubles to these two Crawford County communities. Soldiers Grove has a flood stage of 723 with a few tenths over this mark anticipated. Gays Mills has a flood stage of 698 and their problem to be very close to the flood stage mark. Two warm nights could easily tip the increase over flood stage at either of these villages. Steuben, with a stage of 10 will possibly be below the flood mark. Some roads, along the Kickapoo, are expected to be covered with the spring high waters. On the Wisconsin River, the flood stage at Muscoda is
9 and the last place where a reading is given down river. This will see exceptionally high waters on the lower Wisconsin if the Kickapoo ties its water troubles on the same date. The teeter board of spring troubles on the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien is often controlled by the Wisconsin River. Hopes are for the Wisconsin to be off the peak flood when the Mississippi does its high water act. The Prairie du Chien flood stage is 18 feet. We are listed for 17 on the report. The city is listed at a 17 foot stage on the report. This places some water over streets in the 4th ward and in basements in other places along the slough banks. The big “when will the floods or high waters be at their worst” is still a guess. The Kickapoo expectations are for mid April,
with the potential moving earlier with a sudden long warm spell. In Prairie du Chien the big question is for a time which is not definite. Worst floods for the city have been in mid to late April. High waters, of near flood stage, the 18 foot mark, are often in mid May. The northern snows effected the Mississippi River and are about three weeks later than the floods of the Kickapoo and other area streams. While the forecasts are for high waters, there is the possibility of this being cut in the troubles column. A prolonged thaw, with freezing nights, will aid the area. Heavy snows continue to pile up their threat of spring high water problems. There is no magic finger in the dike, only the few cold snaps which will give the waters a chance to deploy their overthe-banks gift to many.
The Great Flood of 1965 Page 3 __________________________________________________________________________________________________ One of the last homes to be saved was that of Dick Toberman. Volunteers from high school and Campion filled sandbags and pumps kept the water off the floors. This dike was erected with the aid of plastic.
Getting ready to evacuate, the Zella Sheckler family stands on the stoop of their home at 128 North Villa Louis Road, Prairie du Chien.
These Prairie du Chien businesses suffered from the high flood Indian Isle, Ken’s Electric, Spit and Whistle, Wisconsin Farmco, Pribyl IGA, Toberman’s Electric, Shorty’s Service Garage, Milwaukee Railroad, St. Mary’s Academy, Sieg Dubuque, A&W Root Beer Stand, Jack’s Pure Oil, Legion Bar, Prairie Locker Service, Blackhawk Body Shop, May’s Fish Market, Melby Distributing, Quality Beverage, Hanke Mobil Oils, Olson Standard Oils, Fuller Logging Company, McClures Tavern, Winneshiek Nite Club, Oscar Meyer Livestock Yards, Rybarczyk Bros. Propane, Midwest Speaker, Fernette Boat Livery, National Decorated Metals, Radio Station WPRE, Ben Shaub Riverside Repair, Prairie du Chien Marina Inc., Prairie Sand & Gravel-Dillman Brothers, Villa Louis, Brisbois House, Rollette House, Wisconsin Power and Light, Kaber’s Night Club, Circle Bar, Standorf Fuel Company, Henry’s Refrigeration Service, Standorf Heating, Jean Hamann’s Photo Studio, Bowman’s Repair, Benish Candy Company, Ambro Tavern, Shawley’s Resort, Lakeview Resort, Johnson’s Baits, White Livestock, Lakeside Sand and Gravel, Frenchman’s Landing, Johnson Upholstery, Fisher Storage, St. Gabriel’s School, Burlington Railroad, General Telephone Company, Wisconsin Southern Gas Company, City Water and Sewer Departments, Prairie Sanitation and Barrette’s Bicycle Repair.
Page 4 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Water spouts up through the ground One of the unusual features was the water spouts in some areas. Pat Kapinus looks over one near the Farmco Plant. In a few hours, the water reached a four-foot level at this location.
Railroad tracks and corn fields were under water Young John Gavin stands on the Burlington tracks that were covered with water and separate fields for the State Corn Picking Contest. Earlier maturing corn was planted in these fields.
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 5 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
The Mississippi shows its might in Marquette and McGregor Taken from ‘Man Against the Mississippi: A Picture Story of April 1965,’ (published by the North Iowa Times in April 1965)
Marquette was split into three parts by the flood, cutting off all auto travel between the parts and any point outside town. The Mississippi River went on its worst spree of the century in 1965. The river crested in the Marquette-McGregor-Prairie du Chien area on Friday, April 23, 1965 at 25.38 feet. This was 4.56 feet above the 1952 level. The Marquette-Prairie du Chien bridge suspended all traffic on Easter Sunday, April 18, when water over the road between the spans made it impossible to drive the bridge. Marquette was cut into three parts by the river, cutting off all auto travel between the parts and with any point outside the town. All the food, milk, mail and needed medical supplies were carried to the residents by boat or Army duck, which came on loan from the Iowa Na-
tional Guard. Over six feet of water pushed against the dike protecting the Pink Elephant Supper Club and New Frontier Motel. All the stores had full basements and over three feet of water stood at the Main Street intersection. Although inmates of the Yellow River Forest Prison helped in sandbagging the town and business places, more than half the town of Marquette was under water. In McGregor, the water climbed up Main Street past the Scenic Hotel (Alexander Hotel/Latino’s) and many basements were filled with water. One of the concerns of Mayor Robert Flanders was that the river water was backing up in the town main storm sewer. A sandbag dike was built to protect the municipal light plant and dikes also were built around the water pumping station and the grain elevator. Pumping of the sanitary sewer system continued on a 24-hour basis. County engineer Milt Johnson was in constant touch with the officials of the area and spent many of his days in Marquette and McGregor during the crisis. Many other people outside the area, from county officials and Civil Defense leaders to individual adults and school children, provided lots of help and assistance to the communities. They were instrumental in filling most of the 53,300 sandbags that were used in Clayton, Marquette and McGregor. These sandbags came from the city of Cedar Rapids, from the Civil Defense Department in Cedar Rapids and from the Corps of Engineers in Guttenberg. The doctors of McGregor, D.W. Pfeiffer and Clifford C. Smith, administered typhoid inoculations at both McGregor and Marquette schools to all who worked in the flood waters.
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In McGregor, the water climbed up Main Street past the Alexander Hotel. Many basements were filled with water.
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Page 6 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
High water forced the closure of the bridge between Marquette and Prairie du Chien on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1965.
Terry Sharp went fishing out of his front door in Marquette.
Toots Veit and Mr. and Mrs. Al Reiks needed a boat to traverse much of Marquette in 1965.
The Great Flood of 1965 Page 7 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
The glow of street lights on the flood waters cast a striking, if somewhat eerie, sight in downtown McGregor.
These McGregor residents took time away from fighting the flood to pose for a photo for the North Iowa Times.
Residents of all ages were affected by the flooding in McGregor.
Page 8 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
‘Flood was just part of our way of life’ Hand recalls knowing what to do when the flood waters threatened family’s home
By Correne Martin When it came time to evacuate, the Donald and June Hand family, which lived at 113 North Fourth Street, Prairie du Chien, took as much of their clothing and bedding as they could. They moved their furniture and appliances to the second story of their home along with more of their garments, and then they left their home behind to withstand the ravaging flood waters. “Everybody knew what to do,” said Don Hand, one of the six Hand children. Don Jr. was 14 at the time of the 1965 flood, the only son and Don Hand a middle child of the Hands’. His dad worked as a sawyer for Hutchison Log and Lumber and his mom was a longtime cook in the community. “We saw the water come up. We expected it,” he proclaimed. “My father was raised by his grandmother and she lived on the island, so he was a native. Anybody who had experienced a flood knew what to do.” The families living in the Fourth Ward back then spent about six weeks away from their homes—from the moment the water forced them to vacate their properties until the river receded and it was deemed safe to go back home. During that time, Don remembers his family, dog included,
spending their days at the former Methodist church on Beaumont Road. “We slept there, ate there, lived there for six weeks,” Don recalled. “Lawrence Swingle owned the old church at the time.” Accompanying the Hand brood in their temporary living quarters were the Smith, Tippery and Key families. Don said there was a big kitchen in the building, which allowed for them to cook their own meals and feel somewhat at home. And even though the first few weeks were kind of fun for the youngsters like Don, he said it wasn’t long before they all yearned to go home “to our own beds.” Upon returning to their house, the Hands learned that 5 feet of water had devastated the first floor of the cinder block structure. Don said 7 feet of the river had surrounded the outside of the home. “It pretty much destroyed everything,” he said. “We had to sand down the floors, replace them, and just clean, clean, clean. We used a lot of bleach.” “There were some who had elevated their houses, so they didn’t have as much damage, but that was only a few,” he added. Don explained that his parents moved out around 1975, at which time a few of his sisters rented from them for several years before the house was torn down. It being a cinder block home made it impossible to be among those relocated from the Fourth Ward into the city in the years to come. In reflection about his days living on what is now the beautiful St. Feriole Island, Don, who lived there from birth through age 18, described it as “heaven.” “The whole island was one neighborhood and, if you got in trouble at See HAND, page 9
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 9 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
When the flood waters ousted Fourth Ward residents from their homes, some found refuge for six weeks at the old Methodist church on Beaumont Road. Pictured at a late Easter Sunday dinner, Donald and June Hand (far right) and their children were accompanied during their stay by the Tippery, Smith and Key families. The youngsters sitting at the table (starting with the boy looking at the camera, from left) are Terry Smith, Janice Hand, Laura Hand and Shirley Smith and Linda Hand. This was community living for awhile.
HAND, from page 8
lingering around the waterfront almost daily. “We would watch the Avalon come it; it made regular stops. Or we would grab a boat and go out pollya friend’s house, your parents knew before you got home,” he said, smil- wogging. The island will always be a treasured memory because, more than ing. “As soon as our morning chores were done, you couldn’t find us kids.” anything else, I was so young and innocent. It was home.” More of Don’s fond memories stem from the places he and his buddies Don remembers, in his childhood, spending time swimming or simply and family frequented on the Fourth Ward, such as the stores owned by Bill McGuire and John Ackerman (for candy), the Winnesheik, McClure’s bar, the playground at the red schoolhouse, the radio station—and the list goes on. “I think, if everyone had the opportunity now, they’d go right back there to live,” he articulated. “The flood was just part of our way of life. We accepted it.” Retired now, Don lived in Milwaukee for a number of years before coming back to Prairie du Chien. Here, he’s worked at the Sawmill Saloon and Cabela’s and has enjoyed playing the bass guitar at the Eagles Club and other area establishments. He was also a founding member of the annual Fourth Ward Reunion. He still visits his “home,” the island, as often as he can.
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Page 10 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Flood ‘a heck of a mess’ but commercial fishing good By Ted Pennekamp As a commercial fisherman and a resident of the Fourth Ward in Prairie du Chien, Dallas Valley remembers the historic 1965 flood quite well. The ‘65 flood crested at 25.38 feet on April 21, the highest ever recorded. “You couldn’t wade in your yard,” Valley said. “It would have been over your head. It was halfway up most peoples’ windows.” While a quarter of the city’s homes were evacuated, and the flood caused a huge mess to clean-up, not everything about the flood was bad for Valley. Dallas Valley “I got a lot of fish during the flood,” he said. “More than I usually did.” Valley noted that catfish and buffalo swam way up into the woods and were in about five feet of water in order to get out of the heavy current. “I got more than 1,000 pounds per day, mostly catfish that were feeding on angle worms in the woods.” Valley said that after the water went down he and others would also camp on the islands for the summer and do clamming. The river was closed down to travel and Valley said that there weren’t very many other commercial fishermen fishing in the Prairie du Chien area. Valley said that he ran a fish market in the Fourth Ward and also sold fish to area restaurants as well as restaurants in Chicago, which purchased mostly rough fish. “It was easy to launch and load your boat,” said Valley, who noted that he and Carl Valley were making large hauls with hoop nets. “It was easier to raise the nets in the calm backwater.” Valley said that he had live tanks in the boat and sold some of his fish live. Valley said that his parents’ house at 220 N. Fourth Street was raised two or three times because of previous big floods, so the 1965 flood was not as much of a problem for them as it could have been. Prior to 1965, furniture, along with canned goods, potatoes and onions in the basement had to be moved almost every year. As far as his own house and fish market at 112 Villa Louis Road was concerned, Valley noted that there was water over the top of the garage in April of 1965. He could run his boat up on the garage roof, which was nine feet high. “There was current through the yard and about nine feet of water,” he said. Water was in the house and they lost all of the furniture. “I was used to it,” said Valley, who noted that he and many other residents of the Fourth Ward stayed
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Guarding area bridges was one of the duties of soldiers or assignees during World War II. Here Dallas Valley of Prairie du Chien stands guard at the suspension bridge approach in Prairie du Chien. with relatives many times over the years. Following floods, Valley said that bleach had to be applied to the floors of houses as a disinfectant. The floors also had to be allowed to dry out. Walls and insulation were also a problem. “It was a heck of a mess to clean up,” said Valley of the 1965 See VALLEY, page 11
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 11 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
VALLEY, from page 10 flood. “But, everybody chipped in to help, along with the National Guard.” Valley recalled that he and numerous others helped to sand bag quite a few places in front of the Bible Baptist Church, across from which the fields were full of water. He said that the water was high up on the telephone poles on County K, perhaps more than six feet. As one consequence of the 1965 flood, parts of County K and some other area roads were raised. Valley worked part-time with the National Guard U.S. Civil Defense during the 1965 flood. “We would go into the Ambro with our boats at night to check on things and to make sure there were no robberies because everyone was evacuated,” he said. Valley said that Prairie du Chien police officers would also patrol in boats on the Fourth Ward at night. “The water was up around the toll house,” said Valley who also guarded the bridge leading to Marquette. As far as how high the water got, Valley remembered that the Lakeview Marina Bar got a lot of water and that Leo Weber’s Winneshiek Nite Club was forced to close. McClure’s Tavern, three grocery stores, two restaurants, a packing house and the train depot were also inundated, he said. There was also water in the basement of the Villa Louis Mansion. The museum building, which was not on a knoll, was inundated. Valley said that Mabel Dempsey ran the Spit and Whistle tavern, which stayed open for awhile because of a wooden walkway that was built on poles. The wooden walkway eventually succumbed to the high water, however, and the Spit and Whistle was forced to close. Valley said that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were decent and that he didn’t mind when he eventually sold his property and moved to Highway 35 north of Limery Road where he opened a fish market in the garage. “It didn’t bother me to move,” he said.
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March 31, 1965
Courier accepting predictions From all indications,spring is expected to arrive this week and snow will be melting away. Spring rains are also predicted. With this in the near future the main topic of discussion is, “How high is the water going to get?” The Courier-Press is going to record your predictions on the height of the
Mississippi River. Your cards must be postmarked, prior to April 12. Send a card to The Courier-Press, Box 49, Prairie du Chien or call 23. Tell us how high you expect the water to rise, and on what date this peak will be reached. Subscriptions to The Courier-Press will be awarded.
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Page 12 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
West Blackhawk Avenue This was the view looking up West Blackhawk Avenue in April of 1965. The water went a little beyond the intersection with Main Street.
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 13 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
April 7, 1965
Red Cross to aid flood victims Prospects for high river stages on the Mississippi River continue to show some danger to all cities. This past week the American Red Cross started their paper work to provide disaster aids for people in this area. They are coordinating their work with Disaster Chairman J. Alvin Druyor. There are seven counties in the Red Cross disaster district, being administrated through the La Crosse office. They are: Crawford, Grant, Layafette, Vernon, Buffalo, Trempeleau and La Crosse. Equipment for any shelters will come from La Crosse. This would include food and the other necessities for housing
people. Those who are expecting flood troubles in their home and are unable to do all their own work are eligible for Red Cross assistance. The local disaster chairman will be making a list of helpers. Transfer of people to relatives and friends will also be provided to those without means. Expectations are for a stage close to the flood mark of 18 feet. Most of the local help needs will be movement of personal effects out of danger from the coming high water stages. The local disaster chairman will provide aids to those who contact him and explain their needs for the near future.
Mabel shows high-water mark Mabel Dempsey of the Spit and Whistle points to a picture of the 1952 flood to show how high the water was in 1965 on the Spit and Whistle. The Spit and Whistle remained in business in the 1952 flood, but the record flood of 1965 put water through the windows of the first floor. Mabel had all of the floors removed.
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Page 14 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Army ducks helped Mar-Mac residents get around By Audrey Posten As flood waters closed roads in and to Marquette and McGregor, travel by car and truck gave way to boats. Army ducks, amphibious vehicles that could travel on both land and in water, were also brought in by the Iowa National Guard. “The Army ducks were just fantastic,” stated Marquette resident Mary Jo Pirc, who said the Mar-Mac area originally had two ducks, but that number later dropped to just one. “When the water was coming up, they would go to the bottom of the hill [on The Bench] and pick up the kids for school. Eventually, they had to cancel school.” Deidre Vick-Froehlich, who was 14 at the time and lived on The Bench, remembered meeting the duck to get on the school bus. Getting on and off the large vehicle could be a challenge, especially for the girls, she noted. “Back then, we wore skirts, so we had to wear pants underneath if we didn’t want the boys to look up our skirts,” she recalled with a laugh. Sally Scarff, who grew up in Marquette but lived in McGregor at the time of the flood, rode the duck frequently to take photos for the North Iowa Times. She also used it to get to Marquette to visit her mother, who’d been forced from her home by the flood waters. “You had to have a good reason to ride,” she said. Pirc, who assisted with the Red Cross efforts in Marquette, recalled taking the duck to Prairie du Chien with her mother’s friend, Katie Hinkel, to pick up food and mail. “It was going to be the last trip across the bridge,” Pirc said, as the water was getting too high, even for the ducks. There were even fears the bridge would go. “We got across the Marquette span and were ready to go between the bridges. Water was an inch from the top of the guardrail posts. The guy said, ‘It doesn’t look good.’ Water was all over.
Army ducks became an important mode of transportation for McGregor and Marquette residents as water closed roads in and to the communities. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Depot Museum) Then, all of sudden, they were throwing life jackets at us. The current was so swift, we went over the top of the guardrails and got lodged on trees on the islands. They radioed for help for a bigger boat. They had to winch us off the island and push us back up over the guardrails to get back on the bridge.” After that, supplies had to be boated into Marquette, Pirc said.
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 15 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
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Site of the Battle of Prairie du Chien during the War of 1812 and of the First Fort Crawford, where three important Indian treaties were signed. Fourth Ward residential neighborhood, until it was relocated following the record ﬂood of 1965. Contains Lawler Park, the riverfront, Mississippi River Sculpture Park, St. Feriole Island Garden & St. Feriole Island Ball Park and President Trees. Host to annual events including the Prairie Villa Rendezvous, Prairie Dog Blues Fest, Villa Louis Carriage Classic, Mud Run, Oktoberfest and so much more!
City of Prairie du Chien
Page 16 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________ This aerial photo shows a large portion of the Fourth Ward in April 1965. The large building dominating the lower portion of this photo is the Oscar Mayer Packing Plant, which is now the restored Dousman House.
The Great Flood of 1965 Page 17 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
1965 flood caused losses at Fuller Log and Lumber By Ted Pennekamp The 1965 flood had quite a big impact upon Fuller Log and Lumber which was located in the Fourth Ward. Doug and Denny Fuller said that Fuller Log and Lumber had 2,000 to 3,000 logs in different piles to be loaded onto railroad cars and hauled to Wauzeka in anticipation of the big flood. Those logs stayed in Wauzeka until the river receded. Denny and Doug noted, however, that a large quantity of logs and boards that weren’t loaded onto railroad cars yet were swept downstream once the highest flood in the history of the Upper Mississippi River arrived. In addition to loading lumber onto railroad cars, a lot of lumber was piled south of where the Depot Bar is now because it was higher ground. But, the river got too high and took the lumber away. “We lost a lot of stuff,” said Denny. “Several hundred thousand feet of lumber went down the river,” said Doug, the current owner (along with sons Jamie, Jason and Josh) of Fuller Log and Lumber, now located in the town of Bridgeport. Doug noted that his father Bob Fuller and Bob’s brother Earl Fuller ran the business at the time of the big flood. He said that there were approximately 25-30 employees at the time. Not only was a whole lot of lumber lost, but there was quite a mess to clean up after the water receded, said Denny and Doug. Also, equipment such as motors and saws had to be made operable again. “I remember the water was so high that when I would come to town from the Fourth Ward for lunch, I would tie my flatbottom to the Doug Fuller and Denny Fuller in 2015. phone booth on the corner across from Kaber’s Supper Club (now the Blackhawk Restaurant),” said Denny, who was 22 years old at the time. Doug was 12 years old in 1965, and despite the loss suffered by Fuller Log and Lumber, said that there were some good times to be had because of the high water. “We had fun,” said Doug, who noted that he and friends speared many fish, mostly carp and buffalo, in the water in his backyard at 1205 S. Minnesota St., and at other locations. Denny noted that some of the smaller houses in the Fourth Ward were almost under water during the crest. “It’s hard to explain when you see that much water going through,” said Doug. As for the clean-up afterwards, Denny and Doug said that neighbors always came together to help each other during such times.
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Page 18 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
April 14, 1965
Evacuate, prepare for 22 feet First warnings of the impending flood on the Mississippi River were given five weeks ago. At this time the extra snows of the winter blanketed the north country. Officials started setting up emergency patterns for the city for the impending flood emergency two weeks ago. All plans were to protect the city and move people affected by the predicted 22 foot flood. Setting up the military operation Police Chief DonLyons and Sheriff Ray Childs halted the movement of people in the flood danger area Tuesday noon. Only official business people and home owners are being allowed into the flood area of the 4th ward. By keeping the car traffic of spectators from the area, the police will be able to eliminate the possibility of vandalism to homes and property. Members of the National Guard, volunteer firemen and public minded people assisted in the transfer of people and possessions. Families doubled up or found rental quarters into which they could move. To mention a few of the changes, the beer distributors in the 4th ward moved their stocks to the A.W. Thompson building. Campion provided some storage in their new workshop. International stored tools and motors in their storage area. Slaght and McCoy storage yards received many items from the Dillman operation and other places affected. Farmco is preparing for the flood backwaters with extra hurry and effort. The company sandbagged portions of the plant to delay the entry of the high river stages. Pumps are in operation to keep the pits for the automatic transfer of materials. The locker plant had the patrons remove their frozen foods. Sand bags were placed around the building to control the entry of the spring dew line. House moving was accomplished from some for the low
level places. The Lakeview night club was raised, the house at the Marina took on a set of stilts. Several trailer homes now totter on railroad ties and strong beams about the area. It is hoped these buildings are above the predicted levels. At the 16 foot plus mark, streets started to show their low level marks. South Main Street, near the Milwaukee depot, was blocked off Sunday evenings. North Main Street also went under the trickle of the wire the same afternoon. Washington Street was closed as the slough took advantage of the low approaches to the raised bridge. Monday the streets in the 4th ward slowly receded below the spring tide of the river. City crews and county highway workers were pressed into service moving people and supplies over the week end. Local merchants and industry supplied workers, trucks, and lunches to the moving crews. The city placed sand bags on the manhole covers to prevent the spill of the sewer waters. Two large pumps were installed at the sewage plant to keep the excessive waters in the sewer mains open. These pumps will operate to relieve the pressure on the sewer mains. Dillman’s Sand and Cement operations were moved from their previous place. The waters covered the streets Tuesday and hindered their movement of the needed sands. Most of their big equipment was moved or assisted in moving of other people. Fuller Logging operations were removed in about a week of long hours of work in the 4th ward. Hundreds of thousands of board feet of lumber and logs were transferred. The future of the flood danger and threat is anticipated between the dates of Apr. 24 to 28. The actual arrival of the top level of the river should be official next week. The shuffle of dates has centered to one day of Apr. 26 for the crest.
Kirschbaum designed vehicle to traverse both land and water
Some interesting ideas came out of the 1965 flood, but one of the most unique was the special vehicle designed by Marquette resident John Kirschbaum. His mobile apparatus had tires for use on the roads, but was also equipped with flotation devices for water travel. “It had a motor he made himself,” explained Marquette’s Mary Jo Pirc. “It was neat.” Because of his ability to traverse both land and water, Pirc said Kirschbaum helped out a lot in Marquette during the flood.
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 19 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
School kids do their part in Marquette and McGregor By Audrey Posten When the flood hit, residents of all ages were enlisted to help out in Marquette and McGregor, including the school kids. “I was in eighth grade at MarMac in 1965 and the students were let out of school to go down to McGregor to sandbag,” shared Jane Pettit Novey. “I remember filling the bags by the Strand Theatre. The water was quite high.” Dan Bickel, who was 16 that spring, also recalled helping with the sandbag efforts. “We got out of school, but were pressed into service. I’ve never sandbagged so much in my life,” he said. In McGregor, sandbagging occurred on Front Street and up Main Street to A Street. A dike was created to keep water out, protecting the city’s light plant. “The dike was earthen and plastic was laid over top,” he explained. “It sprung leaks occasionally.” He and other young men were enlisted to stop the leaks. Sandbaggers of all ages helped protect McGregor. Among those who worked were “A lot of unpleasant, rainy nights were assigned Tubby Hill, Joan Halverson and Starr Baker. to us,” Bickel said, noting that the fire department went over the Heights to McGregor to help fill sandbags. loaned the boys coats to wear during those times. “It Sometimes, said Bickel, the young workers were even held hostage. was cold, wet and miserable at 2 or 3 a.m. [If a leak occurred], you had “[Marquette Mayor] Charlie Peck rode the Army Duck every trip. to put a sandbag on either side and hope it sealed.” “It actually managed to hold out,” he said of the work. “It was a He rode it like it was his chariot,” Bickel said, noting that boys from McGregor would get picked up to help fill sandbags in Marquette. “He herculean effort and dangerous, hard work.” Deidre Vick-Froehlich, who lived on The Bench in Marquette, even wouldn’t bring the boys back until the sandbags were filled.” However, the flood wasn’t all work and no play for the local youth. “The kids on The Bench talked one man into having a dance in his garage to keep the kids happy,” shared Vick-Froehlich, who was 14 then. “We made it fun, with the dance and walking across the hill to McGregor. It was inconvenient but kind of cool.” “To a 16-year-old, it was high adventure,” said Bickel of the situation. He said he enjoyed traveling around in a 16-foot flat boat, which he still owns. “I could go anywhere in the boat. I remember going through the fourth ward in Prairie du Chien and breaking a sheering pin on the top of a stop sign as I was going over it.” ~ Film & Digital Processing ~ Frames & Photo Albums Bickel said the 1965 flood was “one of those experiences you don’t ~ Photo Ornaments ~ Key Chains ~ Magnets ~ Albums forget. At the time, I probably didn’t appreciate the serious impact as I can now.” As the events unfolded back then, Vick-Froehlich said the signifi60 Riverside Square, cance of the flood hadn’t totally hit home. Prairie du Chien, WI • 608-326-2341 “I didn’t think it was going to be as big as it was,” she said, “but what did I know at 14? You didn’t look at the serious side. Now, when you look back, it was historic.”
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Page 20 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
McClureâ€™s Tavern forced to close McClureâ€™s Tavern, 136 N. Water St., was one of several businesses that were forced to close during the Great Flood of 1965.
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 21 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
‘Everywhere you looked, there was a puddle of water’ By Correne Martin The Mississippi River was higher than anyone in the area had ever witnessed. Residents had experienced floods before, but none quite like this one. It was a time that was as stressful and frantic as one could ever imagine. But everybody helped out, most of the time, with smiles on their faces. “People with boats as far away as 150 miles came here to help. They would come in a flotilla of two to six boats to help move the families,” said Bill Howe, who was editor of Bill Howe the Courier Press in 1965 (from 1946 to 1997). “Both the Red Cross and Salvation Army were here. And the school kids, we never gave them the credit they deserved. They filled, hauled and placed sandbags. We took sand from wherever we could find it.” To report what quickly became national news in a localized manner for the Prairie du Chien paper, Bill found himself along the front lines of every flood-related activity, from photographing Fourth Ward evacuations to attending city council meetings where important decisions were made for the community. “I wasn’t as much the editor as I was part of the community,” he noted.
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He vividly remembers being one of four men to walk up Highway 35 in waist-deep water ahead of sandbag-hauling dump trucks making their way to Lynxville. “There were three dump trucks that had to go to the Lynxville Lock and Dam. Highway 35 was starting to go underwater. Several of us, in our waders, walked ahead,” he recalled, laughing. “We could feel the blacktop with the poles we held onto and with our feet. We had a flag attached to our backs so the truck could keep an eye on us and not run us over.” Needless to say, the crew came back to Prairie du Chien via higher ground on Highway 27. From escapades like this one, Bill said he would remember about 80 percent of what he experienced and then write about it in the newspaper. Of course, he always had his camera strapped around his neck to document the key moments as well. Just like anyone who lived through the historic 1965 flood, Bill has his favorite memories. For instance, he likes to tell the story about the Pitzer house, which was in the Fourth Ward. “It was one of the stops for people working at night. If the light was on, they could stop by in their boat to get coffee, served from the second story,” he said. Bill also remembers a big concern of the community in ’65 being the flood’s threat to St. Mary’s Academy on Beaumont Road. He said a lot of sandbagging was done around there to keep the power and heating system in operation. “Everywhere you looked, there was a puddle of water. It was called the Mississippi,” Bill joked. “It was quite the time. All the way up and down the river, everybody experienced the same thing, and now, everybody has a little different recollection of the flood and what they did to survive it.”
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Page 22 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Attired in boots, jeans and old clothes, Neighborhood Youth Corps work crews went right into the homes. Junior Chamber of Commerce members volunteered to become the crew chiefs and allow break times. This is the Roscoe Rieter home at 956 South First Street in Prairie du Chien.
Emergency center was the police and fire station. Here, Chief Lyons lends assistance while Ken Tichenor and Captain Fanello make plans. The center distributed personnel and equipment to the stricken people of the area and set the patrolsâ€™ work.
The Great Flood of 1965 Page 23 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Looking east up Blackhawk Avenue, the main thoroughfare of Prairie du Chien, Merle May wades out with his boat. His home and fish shop were overtaken by the river.
Garages, sheds and debris were in the yard of the Minnie Parrish home at 135 North Fourth Street. The river came close to reaching Emergency measures involved immunizations. the gables on the front porch.
Page 24 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Although flooding was a yearly occurrence for Boatels in McGregor, in 1965, water went over the roof. Here, the building is pictured three days before the river’s crest.
Flooding was business as usual for Boatels By Audrey Posten “It was just a case of that’s how it is,” said Bob Myers of the 1965 flood’s impact on Boatels in McGregor, the business his father, Richard, started around a decade earlier. “We pretty much got flooded out every year. All of our docks floated, so we just had to secure them better.” “That building’s always been low,” he continued. “At 13 feet and six inches, water gets in. That’s why it was built the way it is, a steel building on a cement slab.” However, in April 1965, the water reached a bit higher, completely covering the building. “Water was over the roof,” Myers said, recalling an iconic photo featured in the North Iowa Times that depicted the water level three days before the crest. The irony of the slogan “Home Afloat” on the Boatels sign didn’t escape him. “It looked so funny.” The biggest thing he remembers, said Myers, who was 22 at the time, was the clean-up. “It was a pain in the butt,” he said. “We had to power wash everything.”
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April 14, 1965
Site of Easter Egg Hunt changed Children of Prairie du Chien will continue to enjoy the annual Easter Egg Hunt Sunday afternoon. The Junior Chamber of Commerce will hold the
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 25 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
School was command central in Marquette At the center of that small patch of ground was the school. As a result, it became command central for the community, serving as a home for displaced residents, a cafeteria for workers and gathering spot for those trying to find a sense of normalcy in the destruction. “The schoolhouse was just a 24hour station,” Pirc said. “It was the one place we all congregated.” Pirc said she helped head the Red Cross efforts in Marquette. They set up on the second floor of the school, providing people with food, as well as beds, cots and blankets for sleeping. The three school cooks came in to help prepare meals for a crowd. “They were there a lot. TwentyThe school was the center of the Marquette flood efforts, offering food and a place to stay for workers four hours a day, there was hot food,” Pirc said. “They cooked just like they and residents. did for the school. The duck drivers By Audrey Posten said they had the best meals and people from McGregor were coming here to eat. It kept everyone going.” At the height of the flood, most of Marquette was underwater, only Pirc said people played a lot of cards in the off time. traversable by boat. “Anything to entertain ourselves,” she said. “There was so much camara“There was a quarter of a block to walk downtown,” recalled resident derie and jokes were flying. If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.” Mary Jo Pirc.
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Page 26 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Built on a mound, the Villa Louis has survived By Correne Martin Perhaps the grandest structure to survive recurrent flooding in Prairie du Chien over the years, dating back to the 1800s, is the Villa Louis. Hercules Dousman purchased the land from the federal government in the 1830s and, having witnessed one of the city’s worst floods, in 1826, he chose the mound, a high point on the island, as the most suitable location for a family home. It was the site first of Ft. Shelby and then Ft. Crawford. Dousman’s brother in-law, Henry Baird, later recalled the flood of 1826: “In May, 1826, when the term of the court was to be held at Prairie du Chien, on our arrival we found the old town entirely under water, the inundation being caused by the overflowing of both the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers. The troops had abandoned the fort, and the inhabitants had fled to the high grounds near the bluffs—but two or three houses were occupied, and only the upper stories in those. It will naturally be imagined that under such circumstances the court could not be held. But not so—a large barn, situated on dry ground, was selected and fitted up for the accommodation of the court, bar and suitors!” Construction of the first home, the Brick House on the Mound, was completed in 1844. “There is evidence in our archives that both Hercules and his son Louis had more fill brought in to enlarge the mound during construction of the two family homes,” Villa Louis Site Director Susan Caya-Slusser said. Over the years, the family, and visitors, endured numerous floods, just as other inhabitants of the island did, and they adjusted their lives accordingly. A letter from Mrs. Dousman to her estate manager, in 1882, talks about delaying her return to Prairie du Chien because of flooding.
In another letter, which was published in the Prairie du Chien Courier in 1904, Mrs. Dousman spoke out about a proposed dam on the slough: “As a resident of the Fourth Ward and one who has practical experience with the effects of high water in said ward, I wish to express my disapprobation to the proposed measure. It certainly should not be necessary to go into detailed description of the high water and its damaging effects. Though the council may not have been among the sufferers, they ought to remember how at various times, families all over this ward have been obliged to vacate their homes on account of high water. I recall very distinctly on several occasions having been forced to take a boat from the railroad station to my house and this condition of things having endured for weeks, All this, when we had no dam.” According to Caya-Slusser, two weeks after Mrs. Dousman’s letter ran in the Courier, city leaders abandoned the idea of the earth bridge/dam across the slough. No items from the Villa Louis’ collection or archives have ever been damaged or lost due to flooding but there has been structural damage to some of the low-lying buildings on the site—most notably the former Carriage House and the Museum of Prairie du Chien. In 1965, the water covered the museum floor to a depth of over 4 feet, damaging the displays inside. The museum reopened after significant remodeling, but floods threatened the building again in 1969, 1975, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2010 and 2011. In response to the devastation of ‘65, the current, elevated visitors’ center was built in 1979. In 2001, the second highest flood crested on April 20, filling the museum building with water nearly 3 feet deep. The repeated floods have taken enough of a toll on the aging structure that it has been closed and See VILLA LOUIS, page 27
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 27 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
The Villa Louis Historic Site, pictured here during the 1965 flood, is one of the only structures on St. Feriole Island that remains today. It has endured countless floods, including the ‘65 inundation. But, according to the site director, it would take 32 feet of water to flood the first floor of the mansion. kept going down and the river crested at 21.4. But with those early predictions, we had to prepare and plan for a new record crest and what it might mean to the Villa Louis,” Caya-Slusser stated. “The report we not yet safely reoccupied. came up with has determined that it would take 32 feet of water to flood Interestingly, a few years ago, staff developed a report that calculates the first floor of the mansion. We have had some water in the basement what various water levels would mean to the Villa Louis’ 17 structures. during floods, but thankfully with the high location of the home, the “With the flood of 2011, the early predictions were scary. We were collection is never in any danger.” told to prepare for a higher crest than 1965. Thankfully the predictions As one of the few structures still standing on St. Feriole Island, the Villa Louis staff anxiously awaits spring forecasts each year as they watch the river creep up on the island. With each flood, their unusual working conditions are accompanied with extra duties: taking photos, calling in updates to the historical society in Madison, lining up boats for travel to and from the site, dealing with calls from the press, etc. The year 2001 was especially unique, as the site underwent a major phase of restoration and Ken White brought workers and supplies to and from the Villa Louis • General Repair by boat. • Welding “Unfortunately, we pay a price for our amazing location on St. Feriole • Fabricating Island and high water is just a part of our operating plan,” Caya-Slusser • Machine Work commented. “April is always a busy time preparing for the opening of the season. We continue to come to work, just by boat sometimes. We • Engine Machining do our best to stay open as long as we have safe access and as long as the city keeps the island open to the public. We have had to delay openings and cancel events in response to the floods. But, just as the water comes up, the water goes down, and then we clean up and get ready for business 1601 E. Lessard Street, Prairie du Chien, WI as usual.”
VILLA LOUIS, from page 26
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Page 28 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Creatures were swimming, hopping and crawling By Gary Howe When you are young and living near the river, there are many fascinations to grab a boy’s attention. Days were spent exploring river edges, catching whatever might swim, crawl or hop by. The river was peaceful, and provided many adventures. And when the Mississippi started to rise, so did the excitement in the neighborhood. My buddies and I would monitor its daily rise, but not by any technical means. We just used a stick stuck in the Gary Howe mud at the water’s edge. The higher the water got, the more excited we got. We knew nothing of predicted water levels or anticipated crests, or even that parts of our community and some of our friends were being relocated. All we knew was that the rising water would bring everything that swam, crawled or hopped closer to us and there would be lots more of them! It wasn’t just the creatures that came with the high water, there was stuff, lots of stuff. And as they say, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” To us, there were treasures galore! We would check daily for the best floating junk we could find. While chasing the critters that came with rising waters, pallets and planks, bits of Styrofoam and floating bottles were gathered, willow poles were cut and raft building would begin. Once our raft was complete, we would use the willow poles to navigate along the shoreline. It would take a crew of two to handle the raft. One to give forward thrusts and the other would do much of the steering and provide all-important balance to keep the craft level in the water. Having been built from whatever was readily available, our rafts were generally less than stable and had just enough flotation to carry a couple of scrawny kids just above the waterline. Yep, our carefree days were spent pushing ourselves back and forth along south Main Street, now the Highway 18 Bypass. Pushing a raft was fun but it didn’t compare with spearing fish. Fish spearing—that is what really brought the neighbors out. Ev-
eryone had a spear and if you were a fish, you were in danger. The newly-flooded areas provided a new food source for the fish as they swam the shallows searching out their next meal. And my buddies and I were waiting for them. We saw just about every variety of fish, but it was the carp we were after. The bigger carp made for a larger target that was easier to hit. Not to mention, they were one of the few legal fish to spear. As a young adventurer with a spear at hand, however, I’m not so sure that ‘legal fish’ was understood by the spearing masses wading the shallows. As the shallows would become warm, the carp would begin spawning. Several males followed a female and would splash away as they were spawning. This splashing would be their undoing. Every kid with a spear would race toward the commotion and let their spear fly. You might be wondering what we did with all the fish we speared. Well, nothing mostly. The neighbor guy might take a few to smoke, or if you could arrange it, the commercial fisherman might take some. But most got thrown to the water’s edge and became food for the scavengers. What goes up must come down. And when the water started to go down, pools of trapped fish started to appear. This made the harvesting even easier. Every day the water went down, the pools got smaller and condensed the fish and we would net and spear them until there was nothing more to be had. As the flood waters receded, it would take with it our rafts to become someone else’s debris. As for our fish carcasses, they were picked nearly to the bone by scavengers. We put our spears away and went about being regular kids again. We just waited until the next time high waters would bring all the things that swim, hop or crawl.
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All electric utilities to the stricken area were shut off. Fortunately, no fires broke out. Youth Steve Bowar and Bill Friedericks are shown paddling their raft past the fire plug on South Main Street.
The Great Flood of 1965 Page 29 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
These young anglers brought in a pile of fish from the flooded waters of the Mississippi.
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Page 30 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Several factors led to the Great Flood A number of elements came together perfectly which led to the greatest flood in the history of the Upper Mississippi River. Deeper than Usual Frost Temperatures from Nov. 28 through Christmas of 1964 ranged from 3 to 7 degrees below normal across the region. At the same time, there was little, if any, snow on the ground. The combination of the below normal temperatures and lack of snow allowed the frost to penetrate deep into the ground. With the winter of 1964-65 being the seventh coldest of the 20th Century in Minnesota (average temperature of 6.1 degrees which was 5.5 degrees colder than the 1901-2000 average of 11.6 degrees) and the 17th coldest of the 20th Century in Wisconsin (average temperature of 13.2 degrees which was 3.4 degrees colder than the 1901-2000 average of 16.6 degrees), the frost depth remained abnormally deep right into early April of 1965. Significant Snows fell during March of 1965 Locally, Up- Roy and Emma Gokeyâ€™s home at 205 North Villa Louis Road. stream During March of 1965, a series of winter storms (March 1-3, March 10-12, March 17-18, and March 27-29) produced abundant snow across much of Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin. The hardest hit areas were the river basins of the Minnesota (March snowfall totals ranged from 14.1 inches at Tyler, Minn. to 58 inches at Bird Island - most of the basin saw snow amounts ranging from 30 to 40 inches), St. Croix (March snowfall totals ranged from 24 inches at Grantsburg, Wis. to 33.0 inches at Minong, Wis.), and Chippewa (March snowfall totals ranged from 16.3 inches at Baldwin, Wis. to 33 inches at Spring Valley, Wis.). This is very significant because the eventual snow melt from these three large river basins would flow into the Mississippi River just north of the National Weather Service La Crosse, Wis. Hydrologic Service area. Locally, March snowfall totals ranged from 8 inches at Winona, Minn. to 23.5 inches at Hatfield, Wis. (most locations saw anywhere from 10 to 20 inches). The eventual snow melt would produce flooding along the Cedar, Root, Black, and South Fork Zumbro rivers. This helped keep the Mississippi River stages high A gas truck sank through a hole on flooded Second Street in the until they could be further enhanced by flows from the Minne- Fourth Ward. sota, St. Croix, and Chippewa rivers. A very cold March kept the abnormally deep snow in place into late March of 1965 March of 1965 was one of the coldest Marches ever recorded in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Minnesota had an average temperature of 14.8 degrees. This was 11.2 degrees colder than the 1901-2000 average of 26 degrees. It was their second coldest March. Only 1899 was colder with an average temperature of 13.3 degrees. Wisconsin had an average temperature of 21.4 degrees. This was 7.5 degrees colder than the 1901-2000 average of 28.9 degrees. This was the fifth coldest March of the 20th Century and sixth coldest March ever recorded (these records date back to 1895). These colder than average temperatures prevented the gradual melting and runoff of the snowpack. Heavy Rains Further Exasperate the Situation Between April 1 and April 15 of 1965, 2.5 to 3.5 inches of rain fell across the region. Normally the rain would sink into the ground. However, with the frozen ground, the rain had no place to go other than into streams and rivers. In addition, the rain melted the abnormally deep snow pack, resulting in even more water. Therefore, streams and rivers rose quickly, causing the Mississippi River to reach record flood stages by mid April of 1965.
March 31, 1965
Flood prospects change Revisions of flood conditions in the area are not drastic at present. High waters are predicted for the Mississippi River in this area with close to the 18 foot flood stage still on the agenda. Latest information shows Prairie du Chien to go 17 to 18 foot in the guess chart. One release stated the waters might exceed the 21 plus feet which devastated the area in 1952. While the guesses have been official one of the men has stayed
to his lower figures for over three weeks. Warming trends could easily trip the delicate balance of the melting snow. On the Kickapoo, the river has continued to keep easily in control of the first runoff. The highest stage anticipated there would be two foot less than the big 1951 flood. Cool evenings have aided in lessening the threat on the Kickapoo. A week of warm and cool will eliminate the flood threat.
The Great Flood of 1965 Page 31 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Laughter and smiles in the wake of despair Editor’s note: To add depth to this commemorative flood section, the Courier Press sought out the personal reflections of writer Jeff Lessard, of Woodman. A one-time flood-affected resident himself and Fourth Ward Reunion organizer, Lessard was asked to share his own memories of The Great Flood of 1965 and describe how it impacted community members like him. For more of Jeff ’s stories, as well as numerous old photos, join “Remember fourthward” on Facebook.
By Jeff Lessard Fifty years ago I was 7. An event happened that would change my life. At the time I didn’t realize it. Heck I was 7, all I knew was I didn’t want to go to school. I’d rather just stay home and play all day. Maybe go for a boat ride with dad. Hang out at the landing where my dad’s family worked and played. Just stuff a 7-year-old did. But instead, the river decided to do its spring cleaning, like never before. My cousins and I played each day watching the water come, amazed at how the river could grow and expand beyond its banks. We were enthralled at the way it grew inch by inch, foot by foot. Our parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts watched with anticipation, planning their next move. Boats pulled closer to homes. Furniture was out on blocks or even pulled out of homes if there was no second story. Tension hid behind smiles. All the while kids played. Oh, we helped when we could. A lot of my dad’s family stayed with us. My dad, grandfather and uncles checked their homes frequently, and each day, they returned a little more tired, a little more confused on how the river they loved so much could engulf their very lives. But each day, they wore a smile. Each day, they knew they were a little closer to returning to what they loved. The day came when the waters receded, leaving tracks of its damage: silt, mud, debris. It took things and left others. The one thing it left behind was change. The currents had changed. They started subtle and gained strength over time. Some say, if you listen closely to the river, it will whisper to you. I have heard the whispers on a warm spring day. And its anger during a summer’s storm. The whispers of change had begun. Those whispers would become a storm. That storm would change the island we called home. Some say for the better. But for most who lived there, it was for the worse. The call came to move those who lived on the island. My parents moved to the island after ‘65. But dad grew up on the island. His roots were buried deep in its soil. As are mine and my sisters’ while my mom came to love it. Over the years living there, I learned I had more than just neighbors but a great big family. It was made up of souls who gave their lives to being different, being unique. They were a gentle bunch, caring, yet they would fight for what they believed. But this fight was one-sided. No way to win. Lost before it began. I was in my teens when it became apparent it would happen. I watched my extended family as they came to realize the new realty. The cry became “Hell no, we won’t
go!” But they would, no choice. Tears shed, hearts broken, lives torn apart. Families scattered, some were OK with it. But others shriveled up and became shells of what they once were. My grandfather died in his yard as he started to move; Grandma followed 11 months later. Now it’s been 50 years since that flood. I am older and yet I still carry scars, but I fondly remember the life that was the Fourth Ward. What did the 1965 flood give me? Memories of family working hand in hand. Laughter and smiles in the wake Jeff Lessard of despair. Visions of people fighting for the lives they believed in, even though they knew deep down it was a losing battle. Family for life. Not just blood, but friends who are family. I could list a hundred more but won’t. Sometimes, even now, people will ask why one would want to live there. Well, maybe that question should be asked of the people who every day drove by the river front. An endless parade of cars all trying to get close to what we call the river. It was like the sunrise for those drivers; it had to happen each day. As a kid, I was always amazed at the string of traffic driving by the river. Not understanding their desire to see the water. Now as someone who was a part of that life, I understand. Now I am one of those drivers, just trying to see and feel the life it gives.
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Page 32 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
April 21, 1965
Flood to set record high Records of time, speed and height are always broken and new heights set, to be broken in the future. The mighty Mississippi River has now ended the tales of the past and reached new heights of damage, destruction and flood stages. The ravaged areas in Crawford County are numerous with the City of Prairie du Chien suffering the most trouble under the onslaught of water and winds. Weeks of planning and preparation by the city were in vain, as the early stages to protect against were 22 foot. Time, the all important element, made these plans too late as there were last minute revisions towards the 25 foot mark. It was not the case of the people not believing, it was the problem of predictors in showing an error early in their figures. The spirit of the people is not gone. Their homes, for the future, are now shattered. Ferryville is now an isolated village. It has the longest main street in the area, with the homes just off the street being affected. It is a long way around to the places one wants to or has to go.
Damage in this area is also high. There are few business places in Lynxville and these are now having trouble. The main street is flooded and closed to regular traffic. Homes, along the street, have water in the basement or on the floors. The village tavern is now having a problem as the waters are over the floors. The Wither family also had to be evacuated. “We were always high enough in the past,” stated the village officials. Now they have more problems and waters than ever anticipated. Bagley, Glen Haven and Cassville are now feeling the pinch and devastation of the flood problems. Harpers Ferry people have to attempt new routes as the high waters encircle much of this river community. Waging a right for possession of the high ground is Marquette. Here the people are using the National Guard Ducks for transportation. Sandbags are in great use, protecting the property of the new buildings. Marquette was cut off from normal travel, as the flood found ways to cover the highway approaches.
1965 flood causes heavy damage The spring Mississippi River flood of 1965 stands as the flood of record for nearly half of the river’s length (from about 100 miles north of Minneapolis, Minn. to Hannibal, Mo.). The crests of that April exceeded previous records by several feet at many river gauge sites. To this day, those record crests still out distance the second highest crest by a foot or more at many of those same sites. This flood caused $225 million in damage to public and private properties, with $173 million of that occurring along the main stem of the Mississippi River. Emergency actions and evacuations, based on National Weather Service forecasts, prevented approximately $300 million in additional damage.
Flood of 1965 progression at McGregor At McGregor, Iowa, the Mississippi River went above its flood stage (16 feet) on April 12. The river reached moderate flood stage (19 feet) on April 17 and major flood stage (22 feet) on April 20. The river crested at a record 25.38 feet on April 24. This surpassed the previous record of 21 feet on June 20, 1880. The river then fell below major flood stage on May 2 and moderate flood stage on May 6. The river finally fell below flood stage late on May 10. This was 29 days after the river flooding began. The river then lingered within two to three feet of flood stage through mid June.
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 33 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Many flood photos seen in the North Iowa Times in 1965 were taken from the air, recalled owner Don Strutt, who flew the plane while his wife, Joanne, hung out the window snapping shots. (North Iowa Times file photo courtesy of Don and Joanne Strutt)
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When the record flood of 1965 struck Marquette and McGregor, as owners of the North Iowa Times , Don and Joanne Strutt, as well as their whole family, became immersed in covering the event. “It was the big flood,” Joanne said, “so we thought it was important to document that. We worked hard to take pictures and make sure we covered everything.” “Many photos were taken from the air,” recalled Don, who had his pilot’s license. “Even though Jo had a fear of heights (despite being a pilot herself), we took the door off the plane and she would hang out the door. She would say, ‘bank a little further.’” Back on the ground, the newspaper staff got to the North Iowa Times office via boat. Then located at the start of Main Street, in the current home of the Little Switzerland Inn, the newspaper office was one of the first buildings the water crept past on its way up the street, all the way to the Alexander Hotel. “We were very happy it didn’t have a basement,” Don said of the building. “For so many stores, water filled their basements.” Coverage of the event was a family affair for the Strutts. When the newspaper decided to publish a special flood book following the event, Don and Joanne said their high school-age sons were given the task of compiling the keepsake edition. “We put them to work,” Joanne joked.
Page 34 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Longtime ‘Fourth Warder’ recalls Great Flood of 1965 By Ted Pennekamp Ray Tippery, a Prairie du Chien “old-timer” who is a young-atheart 87, was a resident of the Fourth Ward for many years, and, as such, Ray knows a thing or two about big floods. “I sure hope we don’t have another one like that,” said Ray about the Great Flood of 1965. Ray noted that his mother’s house was raised because of the 1951 flood, and thus was somewhat more prepared for the flood of ‘65. Nevertheless, nobody had ever seen anything like the ‘65 flood, which certainly has left a Ray Tippery lasting impression. “Several people had raised their houses prior to ‘65,” said Ray. “But, still, the water caused a huge mess.” Ray said that the water at its highest was almost into Kaber’s Supper Club (now the Blackhawk) at 225 W. Blackhawk Ave. and reached several areas of Prairie du Chien. “It covered Lower Town pretty good,” said Ray, who also noted that there was seepage into Lochner Park, and that the water made it nearly up to Sue Z’s Bar at 1000 S. Beaumont Road. “It got up on the building a ways on Prybil’s grocery store that was on the other side of the street from Sue Z’s,” said Ray.
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Ray also remembered that the bridge across the Mississippi River was closed for a time. “You either had to go to Dubuque or to Lansing,” he said. Ray said that everybody pitched in with the clean-up after the flood receded, and that the American Red Cross gave a mop, bleach, a bucket and a broom to all those who needed them. Some housing was provided for a few weeks during the flood, said Ray, but he didn’t have to move because they were up high enough. Ray recalled going back and forth by boat to get groceries and also waving to local radio personality Norb Aschom every morning as Norb was headed to work by boat. Ray also said that the milkman delivered milk to his mother’s house by boat. The National Guard and the local police also patrolled the Fourth Ward to help prevent crime and to make sure that the numerous sightseers slowed down and made no wake, said Ray. The high water also produced stray pets. “There were a lot of dogs on the Villa Louis grounds,” said Ray, “You could hear them yapping at night.” Despite water being in the National Decorated Metals building, Ray said that some people still went to work there by boat, although he’s not sure what they did. Of course, the big flood drew personnel from numerous television stations, radio stations and newspapers. Ray said that he was interviewed by a radio station from Waukon, Iowa. Neighbors stuck together in the Fourth Ward and most, including Ray, didn’t want to move in the years following the Great Flood of 1965. “That was the dumbest thing that ever happened,” he said. “We were one big, happy family. Everyone got along and were real friends.”
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 35 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Flood news the biggest story of journalist’s 52 years By Correne Martin Beloved radio personality Norb Aschom, the voice of WPRE/WQPC for 52 years until retiring in 2013, was only in his 20s when the 1965 flood hit. He started working at the Prairie du Chien radio station on North Villa Louis Road in 1961, doing music shows until he became the news director in 1962. Growing up in Lansing, Iowa, he witnessed the river’s rise many times before, but not quite like this. “We could see it coming. As the conditions changed, the Norb Aschom weather service kept increasing its predictions every day,” he remembered. “Previous floods (in 195152) had seen water on the first story at the radio station and into our transmitter, so we very well knew what to expect.” Station employees first came to work by truck and eventually by boat. (One of them even fell out of the boat during a day’s transit, though Norb vowed to keep his anonymity.) “We got on the boat a block from St. Gabe’s and came through someone’s yard to the station,” Norb said. “There was an element of fun to some of it but it was dark and cold some of those mornings. We always had an experienced fisherman drive us in.” Finally, as the waters approached their highest, the decision was made to move the operation to Station Owner Walt Schlaugat’s house on South 10th Street. “The transmitter was a huge thing with wires. We commissioned a barge to carry it out along with all the related electronic gizmos as well,” Norb described. “We moved turntables, cartridge machines, teletype machines, phonograph machines, desks, chairs. We took what was essential, of course leaving some of the desks and filing cabinets. All those things went to his house, and he and his dad worked through the night to hook up the wires. We didn’t miss one minute of air time.” Thankfully, Norb said, it was a gradual rise and not a flash flood, allowing the staff plenty of time for preparation. That year, the radio station functioned at its temporary site for six months. About eight staff members—three announcers, secretaries and salespeople—worked there at the time. “We didn’t have enough power, so we couldn’t broadcast as far out, but we served the Prairie du Chien area, which was so critical,” he stated, noting that the station only aired from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily in those days. As the torrent wreaked havoc on local river communities, the ra-
dio station phone never stopped ringing, Norb said. He recalls taking “literally hundreds of calls” from national media and putting together one-minute, breaking news actualities, which were read over the phone to United Press International and then distributed across the country. Certainly, a lot of regional media, as well as politicians, came to town too. “This was the biggest news story of all my years,” he said. “Bill (Howe, of the Courier Press) and I were designated the public information officers. This story went on hourly and daily for months.” Just like the warnings and the evacuation, Norb will never forget the aftermath of the flood and the long cleanup process. “The stink and smell was awful. There was a lot of hosing off of the entire building,” he described. “Even though we bleached the floor and used the sanitation kits that were distributed, I’m not sure that odor ever went away entirely.” Two years following the ‘65 flood, Schlaugat made the decision to build a second story onto the radio station. This made it so WPRE was never forced out of the building by high waters again. There were a few times from then on that the rising river creeped into the first floor of the facility, and during those summers, news and music was produced on the second floor. “It was a very busy time but everybody pitched in and dealt with it as best they could,” Norb noted. “I was in my 20s and, at that age, you don’t get phased by too many things.” When it came time for the relocation of homes off the island, Norb continued to follow the stories and provide the public with pertinent and timely information. “Those Fourth Warders were really unique, with their river background. They were formidable families,” he said. “I think the city tried to find the best solution with the relocation. This was the first time anybody ever gave the river their land.” Undeniably, the flood of 1965 taught one budding journalist about the significant impact his job had on the community.
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Page 36 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Amazing engineering feat saved the Pink Elephant Pink Elephant Supper Club owner Bob Ries performed a masterful engineering feat with his coffer dam and saved the business from devastation during the 1965 flood. Marquette resident Mary Jo Pirc recalled getting a tour of the project when she took sandwiches to workers there. “They’d gone all around it with boards that were braced out,” she explained. “Dirt was piled to the second floor. They kept bracing and pumping water out, working 24 hours a day.” “They saved it,” she added. “It was just wild. What he did was remarkable. It was a hell of an engineering feat to save that.”
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 37 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
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Page 38 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Honoring and keeping the Fourth Ward alive By Correne Martin If you’re looking for Fourth Ward history, Bette Beneker is your gal. Not only did she grow up on Prairie du Chien’s famed “island,” the youngest daughter of Carl and Mary Valley, but she has been involved with the Fourth Ward reunions and has compiled an extensive collection of binders containing photographs and clippings from Prairie du Chien’s flood-riddled past. “That was our home. Those people need to be remembered. Bette (Valley) Beneker They were good people who were proud of what they had,” Beneker stated. Since 2008, when retired Courier Press Editor Bill Howe gave her photos on CDs of the one-time Fourth Ward homes, Bette’s research commenced. She started by gathering copies of old phone books and obituaries of the people who lived there. She obtained photos or copies of photos from others who once lived by the riverfront. She dug through her mother’s papers and found hand-drawn maps that highlighted who lived on which block. She also gained information about the businesses and people of those “glory years” from city hall files. “I’ve done this because I loved the Fourth Ward,” Bette said. The Valley house was located at 220 North Fourth Street, on top of the knoll where the St. Feriole Island Memorial Gardens are today. The family’s garden was once planted there too. Bette and her siblings, Jeanette, Dallas, Sharon and Donnie, walked to school down Fourth Street, staying to the middle of the road when the river was high and covering portions of the roadway. “We weren’t afraid of it. We grew up with it,” she said of the flood waters. She remembers the button factory, Tiller storage, the power house, the fire house, the grocery store and the Tremont hotel vividly and, of course, reflects fondly on the neighborhood gatherings oftentimes hosted by her parents. They held fish frys and turtle feeds quite a bit
Like all the others, the Valley home at 220 North Fourth Street was inundated with flood waters in 1965. and spent a lot of time in their backyard. In 1965, Bette was a sophomore in high school. Her memories from that unforgettable year were mostly from before and after the flood. “The whole neighborhood kept an eye on the water as it was coming up and we started moving things up off the floor gradually and onto the second floor if we could,” she recalled. “Then afterward, when we moved back in, we got out all the brooms and mops and cleaned up. The Red Cross had blankets and anything else people needed. We got a good deal on linoleum, so we put new linoleum down. Eventually everything dried up and we were back out in our yards again.” Refreshing their home after each flood was just normal for the Valleys, and other Fourth Warders. Particularly for her dad, Carl, he built the four-bedroom house in 1936, room by room. He and Mary did their own landscaping and plowed the gardens themselves. It was their pride and joy. When it came time for the island relocation project, the Valleys’ home was one of those moved into town (rather than demolished). Bette said the house, which was relocated in 1978, now sits at 918 North Wacouta Avenue. According to Bette’s records, at one time, there were 252 different addresses on the Fourth Ward (certainly, some people lived in the same structures). “We were poor people but we would give the shirts off our backs,” Bette added. “We helped each other out. That’s how we survived. I still go back there a lot and remember what it was like.”
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 39 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
The steps of the First State Savings Bank, now the McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts, proved a dry place to congregate.
Here, city workers survey the flood waters in Marquette. “They tried to sandbag everything in Marquette, but that’s impossible,” said resident Mary Jo Pric. “Everybody was trying to think of anything they could do, but there was no way Marquette could get away from the water.”
Page 40 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Historic Winneshiek Bar floated out of the floodplain By Correne Martin Imagine transporting a 20-ton building on a barge up the Mississippi River. That’s precisely the history behind the storied Winneshiek Bar. Prior to the flood of 1965, the Winneshiek stood at 210 North Second Street, near Fuller Log and Lumber, behind where The Depot sits today. Blair Dillman purchased it in the early-1980s and floated it up the slough to where it currently sits on County K, just north of Prairie du Chien. The Winneshiek was built as a bar in 1936. Since it had a onethird basement, it was likely set on an old foundation. People who grew up in the Fourth Ward during the 1940s and ‘50s remember when the north end was a bar with dancing and the south end was a grocery store. Several admit they went there with their high school dates and friends. Tom and Harriet Smith ran the Winneshiek until his death in the summer of 1960. By that time, the grocery store had disappeared and the bar expanded to take up the whole building. Mrs. Smith leased the business for a time before she sold it to Leo and Florence Weber in the mid-‘60s. They eventually sold the property to the city as part of the St. Feriole Island relocation project in 1984. The Winneshiek and that other famed Fourth Ward tavern, McClure’s, later the Rosegarden, were classic examples of neighborhood bars. Although they weren’t quite the Spit and Whistle on South Main, they did have their charms and loyal regulars. There was always a lot of dancing at the Winneshiek. Where did the name come from? It could have come from the Winnebago chief who lived in this area. Just as likely, it could have been named for the sportsmen’s paradise on the Mississippi known as The Winneshiek—a large network of islands in the Mississippi where the highway crosses between Lansing, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
The Winneshiek Bar and Grill, on County K, is still a hot summer spot in Prairie du Chien.
While the St. Feriole Island relocation project was underway in the late 1970s/early ‘80s, Dillman said the Winneshiek faced being demolished because “nobody wanted it.” However, his passion for restoring old, historic buildings compelled him to step forward and keep that from happening. So, he purchased the bar and arranged for its relocation. “It was a couple day process to move it,” Dillman said. “We had Eggie movers help put it on wheels and then my son Brad, nephew Brian and I rolled it out there on the barge.” Once the Winneshiek arrived upriver, it was rolled off the barge, jacked up and set on a new foundation. It was placed four feet above the 1965 flood’s record of 25.4 feet. “We mainly wanted to get it out of the floodplain,” he stated. In addition to the remarkable undertaking of relocating the legendary bar away from the Fourth Ward, Dillman also moved his business, Prairie Sand and Gravel, up the road to higher ground. In fact, it was one of the last ones to move off the island. “We got our feet wet too many times,” Dillman said, recounting the relocation. Currently, the Prairie Sand and Gravel office is along County K, north of Prairie du Chien. It may be hard for some to envision the Winneshiek as it was decades ago. Yet others may remember it as if it were yesterday. Regardless, it still exists as a viable local business today because Dillman saw its value—just as he did in The Barn; the Dousman House; the former canning factory, now The Cannery; and the former AW Thompson building, now Ashley Furniture. “Old buildings have characOn a barge, ready to go upstream, the Winneshiek Bar is pictured from the rear. It was transported in ter,” he remarked. “I just didn’t the early-1980s from the island to its current location on County K. want to see it torn down.”
The Great Flood of 1965 Page 41 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Carp races were going to be held at the Winneshiek but the river washed the fish away. The floors were buckled and one wall pushed part way from the foundation wall.
Winne sh ment o iek Owner L e f cancele the highly-an o Weber poin ticip d due to ts high w ated carp r to his annou nc ater. aces, w hich w eere
The Winneshiek, from the back, as it appears today.
Page 42 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
April 21, 1965
Red Cross keeps records Keeping track of the transferred people is coordinated with the city police and the Red Cross offices. The emergency office in the fire and police station is directing the transfer of people and possessions to save the few belongings or the entire household possessions. There are approximately 200 families registered with the Red Cross office,under the direction of Mrs. Nona Wiman and Everett Bidwell. The Red Cross estimated there are over 600 people living out of their own homes, with more expected to be moved and registered in the next few days. Presently the Red Cross is
providing direct assistance to 39 families. The next big problem, for the Red Cross, will be aiding the people as the river recedes and they are able to start the clean up operation. A staff of people will be here to aid in directing the Red Cross aids during the clean up operation. Direct assistance will be provided many of of the affected families by the Red Cross disaster aid people. Everyone forced to leave their homes should register at either the Red Cross office or the Police and fire station. The need to register is to provide communication with those most greatly affected.
John Ackerman shows that the river reached the edge of his garage roof during the 1965 flood.
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 43 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Help came in many forms in Marquette and McGregor
Some residents, like Pete Pederson, offered their transportation services during the flood. Here, he gives Gussie Reynolds a ride in his skiff. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Depot Museum)
By Audrey Posten
homes. “We were pretty dirty after fighting the flood,” she said. Don and Joanne Strutt, who lived in an unaffected part of McGregor, took in a couple from Marquette who were both teachers. They lived in a trailer that was taken out of commission by the rising water. “They were here for six weeks,” Joanne estimated. Pirc said her father, Ralph, left the family’s hardware store open throughout the flood. The basement flooded, but water did not inundate the rest of the store, she said. “My dad left the door unlocked and said ‘take what you need and write it down,’” Pirc said. “He relied on everybody’s honesty and I think most everyone was. But who could even get here?” Other residents, like Pete Pederson, offered their transportation services. “My dad couldn’t stay home, so he would go help people and give them rides in his skiff,” recalled Deidre Vick-Froehlich of her father, who was a teacher and coach. “He made it a point to take people to and from places. He always had an extra sheer pin because he’d hit things with the motor.” “I don’t think I ever saw Pete out of his waders,” Pirc added. Vick-Froelich said she remembers her dad taking Marquette resident Terry Sharp to Prairie du Chien to get stitches. Sally Scarff, who was born in Marquette but lived in McGregor at the time of the flood, said Pederson also watched out for her mother, Toots Veit. In her 70s at that time, Veit was displaced from her home in downtown Marquette. “She could’ve slept in the school, but she took her car to the bridge approach and slept in it there throughout the flood,” Scarff said. Her mother could, at times, be found rowing a boat through the flood waters as she checked on her house, Scarff added. Pirc said residents and workers relied on one another not just for help but to keep spirits up. There was a lot more laughing than yelling, she said. “People had smiles on their faces and were joking around,” Pirc continued. “It made it so it wasn’t such a tragedy.”
Despite the flood’s disastrous effect in Marquette and McGregor, it brought out the communities’ fighting spirit and peoples’ willingness to help one another. “Everyone came together and took care of one another,” said McGregor resident Dan Bickel. “There weren’t all of these government agencies then, so you had to rely on your relatives, neighbors and community to take care of you.” “Everybody in town and people from miles around helped sandbag,” added Marquette resident Mary Jo Pirc. “When the sirens went off, even in the middle of the night, you knew you had to be there. It didn’t matter what age—90 years old or 5 years old. It brought people together. You can’t single out any one person. Everybody worked their butts off and everyone was an all star.” Aside from fighting the flood waters themselves, many people opened up their homes to those seeking everything from a place to stay to the use of a washing machine. Pirc was displaced from her home during the flood and slept on a cot at the school in Marquette. She remembered people whose residences were not underwater allowing workers to shower in their Mary Wells and Toots Veit used a row boat to check on Veit’s home in Marquette.
Page 44 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Marquette and McGregor faced ‘one great big body of water’ By Audrey Posten In 1965, when he was 16, Dan Bickel’s first job was working as a janitor cleaning floors at the McGregor Post Office, which was located where Old Man River Restaurant and Brewery is today. He was down there every day, watching water cover the old ball diamond and slowly climb toward the light plant. “Water rising was nothing new,” he said, but, in 1965, it just kept coming. “It’s a gradual thing. Every day it got closer and closer, and that went on for weeks.” Bickel kept track of the water’s rise with a rock. “Every day I put a rock at the end of the water to see if it went up or down. I couldn’t trust the Corps of Engineers’ [projection],” he said, noting that other residents knew of his method and left the rock undisturbed. “It was very scientific.” Bickel said utilizing the rock worked well and he’s used the method ever since. In McGregor, water reached all the way to the drug store, he said. Sandbagging occurred on Front Street and up Main Street to A Street. A dike was created to keep water out, protecting the city’s light plant. Bickel and other boys his age were enlisted to monitor the dike, repairing any leaks. Men ran pumps 24 hours per day. Bickel said McGregor was never completely closed off, though, because of the risk of flooding from behind. “They were pumping a long time,” added Don Strutt, also of McGregor. “The storm sewer had to be blocked to not let any more water in or out.” “The big worry was the light plant,” he continued. “They sandbagged around it and the school kids helped fill to stop it from going underwater. That was the power for the town.” Bickel said some affected businesses downtown managed to stay open, including Interstate Federal, his father’s business and a gas station. Many people were put out of their homes. Flooding also hampered the fire department’s efforts to respond to calls, he remembered.
Doctors Pfeiffer (shown here) and Smith remained busy throughout the flood, administering tetanus and typhoid shots in both communities. “There was a fire one night behind where Uncle Sam’s Saloon is,” he said. “There was no way to get the truck there, so they ran a hose to the roof of the building. I don’t know where the truck was. The building was on fire and there was really nothing they could do about it.” Working near the flood waters and also boating in them was dangerous business, Bickel said. “That water moves quickly. We saw LP tanks and cottages go by,” he said. “It’s a big river, and there’s no way to control it, so we had to be careful.” Bickel said there was also a fear of people getting lock jaw/tetanus, typhoid and other maladies. Doctors Pfeiffer and Smith remained busy throughout the event, administering shots in both Marquette and McGregor. Marquette’s Mary Jo Pirc recalled getting rescued by Pfeiffer one day as he made his way to Marquette to administer shots. Pirc helped head the Red Cross efforts in the city throughout the flood. One day, she and her mother’s friend, Katie Hinkel, decided to take sandwiches to the workers at the Pink Elephant, which was located where the casino is today. “We had a rowboat, and I’d never rowed a boat in my life. We tried to follow the road, but there was a tre-
In McGregor, sandbagging occurred on Front Street and up Main Street to A Street. A dike was created to protect the city’s light plant. The dike was constantly monitored so leaks could be quickly repaired.
See MAR-MAC, page 45
The Great Flood of 1965 Page 45 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
“Water stretched from bluff to bluff,” said Marquette’s Mary Jo Pirc of the 1965 flood. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Depot Museum)
MAR-MAC, from page 44 mendous current and we floated down the river,” she explained. “But here comes Doc Pfeiffer up the river with his two nurses to give tetanus shots to people, and he saved us. He said, ‘What are you two doing? You’re a long way from the Pink Elephant. I hope the sandwiches aren’t stale by the time you get there.’” Pirc said the boys at the Pink Elephant were appreciative of the sandwiches and made sure she and Katie returned to the school safely. Pfeiffer never let them live it down, though. “Every time he saw us after that, he asked if we’d learned to row a boat,” she said with a laugh. “I thought for sure we were going to New Orleans the way we were going.” Getting around Marquette was especially difficult during the flood. Much of downtown ended up inundated and The Bench was cut off by water. “The town forgot to plug up something on Edgar Street and stuff all came up from the dump,” explained Sally Scarff, who lived in McGregor in 1965, but often rode the Army duck to check on her mother, Toots Veit, who lived in Marquette. “The railroad was flooded totally,” Pirc added, mentioning that flooding impacted the roundhouse and damaged some track. “The tracks were bare. There was no train traffic.” Pirc said there wasn’t a house on the flat that wasn’t flooded, including her family’s home, which was located downtown, where Casey’s General Store now sits. “I came home from college for the flood. My dad said he didn’t know what he would’ve done,” she said. “We had to move everything out of the house. We jacked up the refrigerator so far it was hitting the ceiling. We thought it would be O.K., but it wasn’t. Water went up to the ceiling.” Pirc described the area in and around Marquette as “one great big body of water. It stretched from bluff to bluff.” Scarff called the site “mesmerizing.” “The whole town of Marquette was just covered,” she said. “There were sandbags from one corner clear to the other,” Pirc said. “They tried to sandbag everything in Marquette, but that’s impossible.
There wasn’t a house on the flat in Marquette that wasn’t flooded, including the Pirc home. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Depot Museum) Everybody was trying to think of anything they could do, but there was no way Marquette could get away from the water.” Scarff echoed the same thought: “The sandbagging made no difference. In time, the water came there anyway. It had nowhere else to go.” Pirc said what made the 1965 flood so difficult for residents was that the projected crest kept changing. “They kept revising it every day,” she said, “so we had to keep banking higher and higher. You almost didn’t want to listen to the radio because they’d be revising it again.” It was the same up and down the river, as the mix of heavy rains and large amounts of snowfall up north brought water levels higher and higher. “All the way from Minneapolis to St. Louis was flooded,” Pirc recalled. “My mother had 17 brothers and sisters and many lived on the river. They kept calling and saying, ‘Are you mad at us up there that you keep sending all this water?’”
Page 46 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________ When it dries, it’s like silica sand.” “It left behind all this muck and mud and a lot of damage,” he continued. “It smelled, and God knows what was in it.” The fire departments in both towns were busy for some time hosing down the streets. “The fire department kept hosing down the streets to get the mud out of there,” said Marquette resident Mary Jo Pirc. “They didn’t want it to dry on the streets. They did a pretty good job.” Getting flooded homes back in order was also a challenge. “It took so long to dry the houses out,” said Pirc, whose family’s home was underwater in downtown Marquette. “We went in every day and sprayed down the walls as the water went down. There was so much dirt.” The home had just been remodeled, Pirc said, when the flood hit. “Paneling was big then and we coated The river came up slowly and went down slowly. it beforehand with special stuff,” she exAccording to McGregor resident Dan Bickel, it plained. left behind an “interesting mud that’s like glue.” Because of their daily efforts to wash away the dirt and grime, Pirc said the home and new paneling was saved. They By Audrey Posten weren’t able to move back in for a year, though. “We had that paneling until the house was torn down,” she said. “The river comes up slowly and goes down slowly,” said McGregor’s Dan Bickel. “Then it leaves behind this interesting mud that’s like glue. “Everybody had fans inside and outside and most were pretty lucky.”
Flood left behind mud, smell
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 47 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
The marina parking lot in Prairie du Chien was used for boat storage during high water. The home was raised to plus-23 feet and had over a foot of water. The sales offices had water over the windows.
April 28, 1965
Boat City houses Fernettes Becoming well acquainted with the power of the river over the years, the Fernette family was somewhat dismayed when they were forced from their homes in 1965. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Fernette, sr., sons Don and Kennie; Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Fernette and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Fernette, jr., and one year old baby, Robert, II have taken up residence in â€œBoat City.â€? The three families actually occupy five boat houses secured in an area near the old ice house.
Mr. Fernette normally repairs these boats during the winter, and they are stored in the ice house. As the water rose they began to float too high and did not have clearance in the building. They were moved outside, and as the homes of this family became flooded, they received clearance from the owners to use them as their lodging until able to move back into their residences. Kenny is a sophomore at the senior high school and commutes by boat, receiving his shopping lists from the small city.
High waters limit travel Near crest levels have closed many of the area highways. Only good news note was the drop of the Wisconsin River at Boscobel this morning. This will ease the threat to highway 18 and 35 south from Prairie du Chien. Highway 18, south, is open to almost all points. Highway 35 to East Dubuque remained open. Iowa and illinois officials were directing a big battle to keep the Dubuque bridge connection open. This battle might change in favor of the river later.
To the north, highway 35 is for local traffic only. Ferryville is block on two sides. This highway was affecting Cold Springs, Copper Creek, and several other low spots. Lynxville has their Main street closed, as the waters also closed off County Trunk E, the Dixon Ridge access. In Prairie du Chien the link to Iowa is blocked off by the tide of excess drippings from the north country. Crossing to Lansing remains open with continued suggest of water threatening this thoroughfare.
Page 48 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
One huge mess to clean up The young men of the city did their part, along with everyone else who worked long and hard to help with the grueling clean-up effort.
April 28, 1965
Clean-up headquarters set up A flood disaster clean-up committee has formed to provide the work and materials to the victims of the disaster. The new operation started Tuesday with office and two phone lines,1105 and 1106, placed in the Wisconsin Southern Gas Building at Commerce Court. Dave Meyers will be director of materials and supplies. Don Knapp will head the enlistments and communications; Don White, finance and audit; Walter Schlaugat and Jack Howe publicity; Col. Louis Devito, Campion, transportation; Elmer Queram and George, headquarters; Dr. H.L. Shapio and Dominic Fanello Medical and Harry Zabel safety committee. An area two miles long and nine blocks deep was affected by the reared flood of the Mississippi River. Presently there is the greatest need for workers to assist the homeowners
in their plight of getting their homes and grounds back to order. The volunteer firemen were told by Chief Burgess they will be expected to assist in some of the street cleanup. Some of the men will be asked to aid in flushing the Farmco plant, so this company can resume production and hiring the people. Some of the business places might also require the service of the department. Our city needs clean streets. A good flushing will help the streets’ appearance and the germ problem, he added. One gift has been received to aid in the cleanup. The Chamber of Commerce at Vicksburg, Miss., sent a $500 donation, through the Red Cross headquarters. Special thanks goes to this historic and courageous city for their financial aid. From reports, their area will fall under the onslaught of the river in the near future.
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 49 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Farmco employees shuttle by boat, avoid debris Employees at the Farmco Plant shuttled back and forth by boat. Heavy equipment and electric motors were raised as much as possible to escape the water. Considerable inventory was lost. Guards patrolled the area for safety reasons 24 hours per day.
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Page 50 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Vacating the Fourth Ward
Working with the government and the people By Correne Martin The estimated flood damage from the 1965 disaster totaled $2.5 million. Area river communities were all under water and Prairie du Chien’s Fourth Ward was no exception. Thirteen years later, the city was in the news once again, not for another flood, but because a solution was determined that would get the homes off the island, so the city wouldn’t make the news every time the river rose. For several years beginning in 1978, about 130 Fourth Ward structures, residential and business, were purchased by the Dale Klemme Corps of Engineers and razed or moved inland. Flood proofing assistance was provided for 175 structures in the city, both on and off the island. This was all part of a relocation project led by Dale Klemme, who is now known locally as the executive director of Community Development Alternatives but, back in the late ‘70s, was new in town and hired by the Corps to administer the project. “This project was the first and, still to this day, the only 100 percent non-structural Corps of Engineers flood control project,” Klemme declared. “The Corps felt this was the only solution. If the objective was to reduce flood damage, I think it turned out well. If they had remained, many of those homes wouldn’t be occupiable anymore. In the big picture, it was necessary.” Klemme, a Manitowoc County native, Army veteran and UW School of Business graduate, came to Prairie du Chien in the fall of 1977 as the relocation project was starting. He got on board thanks to a friend who knew someone who had submitted a proposal to the city of Prairie du Chien to administer the first allocation of money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the project. “I came to Prairie du Chien twice a week and started meeting with local folks (city officials and the relocation committee) to strategize how we were going to spend $500,000 in HUD money, even though there was no evidence there would be subsequent allocations,” Klemme explained. Klemme, who ended up purchasing a house in the community in December of 1977, worked for 16 months under Ennis and Associates, the firm contracted for the project. He and a man named Tom Hirsch were tasked with the job, though Hirsch later resigned his duties and Klemme pushed forth. In 1978, Ennis and Associates dropped out and Klemme became the independent contractor. “My job was to get to know everybody who was to be in the project and to be the liaison between the people affected by the project and the committee,” Klemme said. “I explained to everybody the process and was involved in all the appraisals, offers, sales, etc.” The first year of the relocation project, the allocated $500,000 only covered about 18 homes. The committee initially focused on those at higher risk during floods, the owner occupied homes and the ones housing large families, elderly or disabled. Comparable homes in the community were sought in all cases. The first property acquired as part of the project was owned by Melvin Kehoe at 222 North Villa Louis Road. A middle-aged couple with four children lived there. The property was purchased for $12,000 and torn down. A comparable home was located at 800 East Webster Street. Once a price was negotiated, the city paid the property owners, and the Corps of Engineers then reimbursed the city. According to Klemme,
owners were eligible to receive up to $15,000 in relocation assistance in addition to what they were paid for the value of their home. Once the $500,000 was spent the first year, city officials traveled to Washington, D.C., to request more funds from HUD. An agreement was reached, but the city was ordered to broaden its focus to the entire city, rather than just the Fourth Ward. So for the next two years, the city could utilize $400,000 per year—half for the relocation and half for housing rehabilitation assistance citywide. The city would take applications from homeowners who were income-eligible and then assistance was provided for improvements such as electrical needs, new windows and roofs, handicapped accessibility and energy efficiency projects. “That program is still in existence today,” Klemme pointed out. The Corps of Engineers’ relocation project involved about $4 million. To start, 80 percent was to be paid by the government and 20 percent, or $800,000, by a city match. But in the end, city officials, Klemme and area politicians lobbied and acquired additional HUD money as part of the local match, leaving the city only responsible for about $300,000. “That was a lot more money than it is now though,” Klemme stated. After dealing with the first 18 homes, additional Fourth Ward houses were identified as moveable; however, there was very little suitable land left in the city upon which they could be transferred. With this in mind, Klemme approached Erickson Hardwoods in hopes that the city could purchase some of its property near the intersection of North Michigan Street and South Frederick Street. “We spent $26,000 on See FOURTH WARD, page 51
Pictured at the closing of her home’s sale (circa late-1970s/early1980s) are Geneva Olson (front), Dale Klemme (back, left) and Mayor Jack McPhee.
The Great Flood of 1965 Page 51 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
FOURTH WARD, from page 50 six lots and sold them at cost,” he said. “They filled up quickly.” Four of those lots were filled with Fourth Ward homes and two eventually gained Design Homes structures. Another housing development was constructed just north of the Campion Jesuit High School (the prison today). Purchased from the school for $70,000, two blocks of open land received all new streets, sewer and water thanks to grant money. A foot and a half of fill was added to the lots as well. “We created our own neighborhood there,” Klemme said, noting that the new lots also filled up fast. By the end of 1982, just a handful of homes remained on the island. The last house, owned by Robert Fernette, was actually relocated in 1984. And when it came down to it, everyone moved voluntarily, except one gentleman, Lawrence Fernette. He challenged the Corps of Engineers over what he was offered for his property. “We even went to court over it but, in the end, he invited me in for supper and all was well,” Klemme remembered. “A lot of my work was done in people’s homes. I made a point of sitting down at their kitchen tables. I learned a lot by just observing people and developing relationships with them. If I was in someone’s home and the woman was baking, I knew she would want a nice kitchen in the replacement home. If the man was woodworking, I knew he’d want a basement or a shop out back in his replacement property. When I listened and addressed people’s needs, it made the thought of moving more palatable.” In certain cases, Klemme said, some neighbors ended up living next to their old Fourth Ward neighbors upon relocation, which also made the transition easier. “I was dealing with people and I understood that they deserved respect, patience and understanding,” he added.
These individuals, Brad and Allison, came from the Department of Interior in Baltimore to inspect Fourth Ward homes for historical value before they were razed or relocated. Here, they peeled back the siding of one home to reveal a log cabin structure underneath. This unique property still stands on St. Feriole Island today.
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Page 52 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
St. Feriole Island, a gift of 175 acres, is a great resource By Ted Pennekamp It’s been said that the only constant on a river is change. The Great Flood of 1965 certainly precipitated a lot of change in the Fourth Ward in Prairie du Chien in the 50 years since. Gone are the businesses, homes and people that once populated the Fourth Ward, but over the years the area has been developed into a vital resource once again. What was commonly referred to as “The Fourth Ward” or simply “The Ward” started to become known a little more by its original designation of “St. Feriole Island” in the half century following the flood. St. Feriole Island today, of course, is quite different than it was prior to the big flood. What is now oftentimes referred to simply as “The Island” has undergone various developments over the years to become quite a recreational area for local residents as well as drawing in thousands of tourists each year. “That transition has been going on for 50 years,” said Prairie du Chien Park Board Chairman Tom Nelson. Nelson said that in the late 1970s the city of Prairie du Chien received grant dollars through the University of Wisconsin to develop a “re-use plan” for St. Feriole Island. Nelson noted that a committee was formed to develop the reuse plan. In 1980, Nelson recalled, a second committee was formed to implement the re-use plan. He said that the Re-use Committee stayed in existence until 2008 when it disbanded. The Re-use Committee, in conjunction with the Prairie du Chien Park Board, have worked since the late 1970s to develop what people now see when they go to St. Feriole Island. “It’s a gift of 175 acres along the Mississippi River that other communities would scream to have as a resource for their communities,” said Nelson, who has chaired the Re-use Committee at various times The St. Feriole Island Memorial Gardens is one of numerous locathroughout his 28-year tenure and has also served on the Park Board tions on the island that helps draw thousands of tourists each year. for 25 years. In addition to the original grant funds through the University of Wisconsin, Nelson noted that the development of St. Feriole Island was aided greatly by three different enhancement project grants through the federal and state Departments of Transportation, the first of which was received in 1993. The enhancement project grants allowed for 80 percent of the projects to be funded by the federal and state transporWednesdays Tuesdays tation departments. Numerous volunteers, organizations, donors, contractors, the City Council and the City Street Department also played All-you-can-eat Whole big roles over the years. The first major changes to take place, said Nelson, involved redeDeep Fried velopment along the riverfront including a brick walkway through Catfish Lawler Park, iron work between the walkway and the river, a gazebo in the park, benches, historical markers, and the Women’s Civic Club Wednesday, Thursday & Sunday Garden. More than 103,000 brick pavers helped to make the walk-
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The Great Flood of 1965 Page 53 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
ISLAND, from page 52 way. Lawler Park, on the west side of St. Feriole Island, is a lovely area enjoyed by shore fishermen, families having get-togethers in the gazebo or at the various picnic tables, children and their parents enjoying the new playground area, people strolling through or sitting on the benches enjoying the scenery of the park and the river, people attending Concerts in the Park at the gazebo, or people waiting to board one of the Mississippi River boat cruises. Nelson said that the second phase involved the remainder of the walkway and a stone building with stained glass windows at the intersection of Blackhawk Avenue and Water Street on the south side of Lawler Park. The stone building was completed in 2002. The third phase was the reconstruction of parts of Blackhawk Avenue from Rowdy’s Bar west to the stone building, including extending the sidewalks, brick crossings for pedestrians at intersections and the construction of the stone “Gateway to St. Feriole Island” on either side of Blackhawk Avenue near what has become Lucky Park, which is located just to the west of Rowdy’s. There have been several other developments over the years as well. Blair Dillman built the Depot Bar and continues to reconstruct the former Dousman House Hotel, both of which face the Mississippi River. The St. Feriole Island Ballpark featuring a baseball diamond, two softball diamonds, lights and a concession stand was completed in 2004 to the south of Blackhawk Avenue. The St. Feriole Island Ballpark was built on land which was raised in order to stay two and a half feet above a 100-year flood. The Ballpark hosts a variety of baseball and softball games and tournaments including the American Legion and Junior American Legion baseball teams as well as Prairie du Chien Parks and Recreation adult softball leagues. The Mississippi River Sculpture Park includes 10 sculptures depicting important historical figures of the Prairie du Chien area. Every few years, a new sculpture is added as the Sculpture Park continues to slowly, but surely expand.
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This photo from 1996 shows the beginning of the enhancement project for what is now part of Lawler Park. Water Street was narrowed and railroad tracks had to be taken up, among many other improvements. A living legacy within the area’s natural beauty is stated by the St. Feriole Island Memorial Gardens consisting of 10 acres of pocket gardens and full fields of gardens, including the Children’s Garden, Spring Pond, Shade Gardens, Backwater Garden, Trees with a History, and the Patio Garden. The St. Feriole Island Memorial Gardens have been a part of St. Feriole Island for the past 10 years. A few years ago, the Prairie du Chien Rotary Club completed an 18-hole disc golf course on St. Feriole Island for the enjoyment of disc golfers of all skill levels. The Villa Louis Historic Site has long been a favorite destination on St. Feriole Island. The site is owned and operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society. Embracing 25 acres along the Mississippi River, the site includes the Villa Louis Mansion complex, restored grounds and gardens, the Fur Trade Museum, Wisconsin’s only War of 1812 battlefield, and a museum store. The site has completed a documentary restoration of the mansion complex returning the buildings to their 1890s appearance. Special events on the site include a War of 1812 re-enactment and the Villa Louis Carriage Classic. St. Feriole Island is host to many popular events each year, including the Prairie Villa Rendezvous, the Prairie Dog Blues Fest, Oktoberfest, the Haunted House, the Fourth Ward Reunion, the Mississippi Mud Run, Concerts in the Park, the Prairie du Chien Half Marathon, fireworks the second week in July, and the Droppin’ of the Carp on New Year’s Eve, just to name a few. In addition to special events, many people take advantage of the great park-like setting of St. Feriole Island to walk, jog, ride bikes, hold reunions, have weddings, and enjoy the beach on the northwest side. There are also two boat launches, the North Boat Launch and the Marina Boat Launch. All in all, St. Feriole Island has undoubtedly become a great resource for the citizens of Prairie du Chien and beyond.
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Page 54 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
“That water moves quickly. We saw LP tanks and cottages go by,” recalled McGregor resident Dan Bickel of the 1965 flood. “It’s a big river, and there’s no way to control it, so we had to be careful.”
The Dousman House
Withstood 6 Major Floods 1951 21.0 feet 1952 21.3 feet 1965 25.4 feet 1988 21.5 feet 1993 21.92 feet 2001 23.74 feet
and Res to ... re To All It’s d Splendor
Waking up to a complimentary breakfast and a refreshing dip in our water park, or our friendly, accommodating staff who’s always there to help, the relaxing comfort of our business and family-friendly rooms — these are the comforts you can expect at Country Inn & Suites by Carlson,® Prairie du Chien... all at a great price.
◆ Bear Foot Bay Indoor Water Park ◆ Buckhorn Grill & Pub ◆ Family Suites with separate kid’s room ◆ In-room coffee maker, iron & ironing board ◆ Spacious rooms and an elevator
In the 1800’s the Dousman House was known as “The Marrying Place.” Remodeled and restored to its days of splendor, the Dousman House is once again becoming “The Place” for social events.
For Reservations, call Drew
608-326-4941 or Cell 563-880-5067
1801 Cabela’s Lane, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821 800-456-4000 www.countryinns.com/prairieduchienwi
The Great Flood of 1965 Page 55 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Let’s Go Boating! May 12, 1965
Red Cross closes registration AlumaCraft & War Eagle Boats Mercury & Yamaha Motors
Three showroom s of boats and mo tors The largest selec tion in the area!
119 W. Blackhawk Avenue Historic Downtown Prairie du Chien 608-326-2478 OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK
24 Years of Supplying All Your Building Needs SPAHN & ROSE LUMBER CO. 1155 E. La Pointe Street Prairie du Chien, WI (608) 326-8497
Registrations for the Red Cross help in meeting the disaster clause needs, will close on Friday May 14. If you are disaster victim in a need of assistance and have not contact the Red Cross Disaster Relief headquarters, please do so as soon as possible. The Red Cross will remain on the job in Prairie du Chien, until all the plans are completed for the families who have
sought aid. However, all applications must be made by Friday May 14 when registrations close. An experienced Red Cross worker will discuss your problems with you and plan to meet those needs you cannot handle alone. In disaster, all Red Cross assistance is an outright gift. No loans are made. No repayment is required or expected.
End or the beginning? This flood can be the end or the beginning of the 4th ward. It can be the end of its major use as a living area for those continually suffering from high water. This can be the beginning of an island park of historic and recreational interest. No federal agency has stated the people should be moved from the ward. In some areas they recommend the abolishment of the lands as suitable for permanent living locations. Our people have some attachment to their homes and property;
not all would be willing to be moved to above flood line locations. Presently there are homes for sale which could be used to relocate about half of the families ravaged by the flood. Now everything is a loss. The future could be prosperous with a park and recreation area of beauty and comfort. The lands could be utilized in many aspects for the use by the local and transient visitors. There are plans for using this ward for a park recreation and historic area.
ATVs, UTVs Sales and Service Come See Us For Your Next
POLARIS • ARGO • KAWASAKI 1100 East LaPointe St., Prairie du Chien, WI
Hours: Sunday and Monday Closed; Tuesday and Thursday 8-5; Wednesday - Friday 8-7; Saturday 8-1 www.prairiemotorsports.com
e From th ss re P r ie r Cou s e iv arch
Page 56 The Great Flood of 1965 __________________________________________________________________________________________________
Prairie du Chien, W
This section retells the stories of those who lived and carried on business during the historical flood that crested at 25.4 feet in southwe...
Published on Apr 27, 2015
This section retells the stories of those who lived and carried on business during the historical flood that crested at 25.4 feet in southwe...