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The Great Pumpkin Flood of 1903

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 8/19/20

“The story of the pumpkin flood was one of Richard Eldred’s favorite anecdotes,” recalled Wayne County Historical Society member Ann O’Hara of the late historian and fellow …

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Pumpkins ahoy

The Great Pumpkin Flood of 1903

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“The story of the pumpkin flood was one of Richard Eldred’s favorite anecdotes,” recalled Wayne County Historical Society member Ann O’Hara of the late historian and fellow member. 

Don’t confuse the 1903 flood with the Great Pumpkin Flood of 1786, when the Susquehanna overflowed and took fields of pumpkins with it.

Nor with the floods mentioned by the Hartford Courant: in 1753 in Harpers Ferry, VA and in 2005 on the Connecticut River. 

We’re talking Equinunk, PA, and other points along the Delaware, when heavy rains sent floodwaters through farmers’ fields, taking the pumpkin crop with them. 

Pumpkin floods are a thing, people. 

Carol Ann MacMaster, from the Equinunk Historical Society, compiled information about the flood for me. Here’s what she found:

“The Great Pumpkin Flood of 1903 occurred on October 9 to October 11. This rain of five to ten inches in an already wet year caused record flooding all along the Delaware River.” 

It’s still a record-setter in towns like Hale Eddy and Fishs Eddy, MacMaster wrote.

“It was called the Pumpkin Flood because the farmers who grew them watched helplessly as their crops floated off into the river and bobbed on downstream.” Mid-October is when the pumpkins were in the field, about ready for harvest.

The Basket Historical Society’s newsletter The Echo adds to the flood story, saying that the river was 30 feet above its low water mark. The Erie tracks at Lordville were underwater. To keep buildings from floating away, in some places they were tied to trees. Those not tied sometimes floated downstream or were knocked off the foundation. 

The flood took out the water wheel at the Joel Hill Mill and, on October 10, the bridge at Lordville. It wiped out Hankins undertaker Fred Baudendistle, carrying off his home, his hearse and his place of business. 

No deaths were mentioned. 

Want more history? Contact the Equinunk Historical Society: www.equinunkhistory.org, 570/224-6722.

Find the Basket Historical Society on Facebook or at www.baskethistsociety.wixsite.com/baskethistsociety.

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