New Castle News

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March 26, 2013

Photo Gallery, Story: Homes, bridges — and two lives — were lost in 1913 flood

(Continued)

NEW CASTLE — FATALITIES

Those evacuation efforts accounted for one of the two deaths blamed on the flood: city police officer Thomas Thomas, who drowned near the area of the Shenango Tin Mill. Thomas, The News reported, had been in a rowboat “working all day long rescuing persons” when the craft overturned. Alderman J.H. Gross, with whom Thomas had been working, reportedly reached the roof of a Preston Avenue home and was able to climb inside through a second story window. Thomas’ body, though, was later found near the tin mill.

The other flood-attributed fatality is that of 5-year-old Peter Chirozzi, who was playing atop a wall along the Neshannock Creek when he fell off and was drowned. The tragedy, though, did not occur until April 10, two weeks after the flood waters were at their zenith.

Still, stranded residents weren’t the only problems New Castle faced.

DARKNESS & DESTRUCTION

The city went dark when water submerged the generators of the power plant, and New Castle’s water supply plant also had to be shut down. Neither service was restored for days. Schools, businesses and industry closed as well, and all transportation – including the railroads in and out of town – came to a halt.

Mayor Walter Tyler, Police Chief Norris Mitchell and Fire Chief Frank Connery and members of their departments remained on continuous duty from midnight Monday until late Thursday.

And still the Shenango raged.

On the morning of March 26, the historic Black Bridge, a wooden, covered span that connected the city to Union Township near the confluence of the Neshannock and Shenango waterways, was swept away.

The same day, The News said, water was “running over the Grant Street Bridge a foot high (and) the bridge was roped off yesterday and declared unsafe.” Eventually, it too would be lost, along with the Gardner Avenue Bridge and a Pennsylvania Railroad bridge that had been weighted down with “seven or eight loaded coal cars” in a futile attempt to save it.

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