* Part of the Schuyler co., NY GenWeb site *



PAGE 1 ----- Description of the Great Flood of 1935
& Mills' Gas Station Photos  (Town of Dix)
PAGE 2 ----- Sixth Street, Watkins, NY
PAGE 3 ----- Watkins, NY Scenes (Town of Dix)
PAGE 4 ----- Schuyler county Court House, Peck's Tourist Home (Town of Dix)

The Great Flood of 1935

Remembered by Rhoda White Rollin

"Watkins Glen was flooded in 1935.  I know it was in July and I think it was the 5th or 6th.
I was 12 at the time. The official explanation was that 'three storms were caught in a
pocket over the area and turned into a cloud burst.' I have often wondered if it
wasn't perhaps a hurricane that worked its way north."

"The Glen itself at Watkins is a State Park. A CCC camp had been established in the
upper part of the Glen. a flat area known as White's Hallow.  The CCC boys were
cutting down trees, making clearings for picnic tables, and building paths and roads.
The trees they cut for the moment were left where they fell. And there were huge piles
of gravel and rock for the road beds.  The gorge of the glen started at the edge of White's Hallow.
Glen creek not only cut it's way through the gorge, but the cliffs began to rise on each side of
the creek till half a mile later they rose 100 feet or more. (They are around 200 feet
high where the gorge ends and the village starts.)"

"It was here that the New York Central Railroad had built it's crossing of the gorge
by erecting two steel pilings to support the bridge 150 feet or so above the gorge.
It's possible they were higher -- I know they were immense.  When you were down in the
gorge the concrete abutments that held the steel girders erect were twice as tall as I."

"It started raining early in the evening.  Raining ever harder, the creek at White's Hallow
overflowed and the logs that were laying about began to float down the gorge
toward the NY Central bridge where they jammed up behind the pilings till there
was a wall of water 100 feet high.  You used to be able to see where the
water line was when the bridge broke and off went logs, steel girders and tons and tons
of water roaring through the glen to shoot out in a wall of water 20 feet high over
a sleeping village.  There is still a girder lodged in the glen."

"There was a NY Central train due to go over that bridge about midnight.  Because the rain
had been so heavy and because he had an uneasy feeling, the engineer stopped
his train before he got to the bridge, took a lantern and felt his way through
the rain to the edge of the gorge only to find the bridge gone just as he had suspected."

"In the meantime down in the valley the Glen Creek had been rising and had
overflowed its banks.  The mayor and the police and firemen were trying
to rouse the people who lived in houses along the creek and warn them that since
the rain was increasing the creek would go higher & they should leave their homes.
 One woman, the high school librarian, who's home was a block below the glen entrance
refused.  She said she had been born in that house and she was staying in that house.
The water continued to rise and trees began to come.  Some banged into her house,
knocking off several rooms till she stood in her shattered living room and screached
for the firemen to come and get her.  By now it was impossible for them to cross the creek.
Just then a huge tree hit her house and she was gone.  They found her body
several days later near where Glen Creek used to enter Seneca Lake.
At this time no one in the village was aware of the dam that was building up in the hills."

"The village had changed the creek bed years ago when they dredged a creek bed
straight from the glen to the canal and filled in the old creek bed that used to
meander through the village on it's way to Seneca Lake.  When the dam finally broke,
a wall of water shot out of the glen entrance 20 feet high and spread out over the village
following the old creek bed.  Along with other buildings a grocery store that was
across the street from the glen entrance disappeared completely in the wall of water.
 As the creek flowed, my home was eight blocks from the grocery store.  We found
canned goods from the store in our cellar when we finally finished pumping the water out."

"My family and I were at our summer cottage 5 miles down Seneca Lake.  And what we went through
that night is another story. Our road to the highway was washed out and we practically had to
rebuild it.  Because the bridge at Hector Falls was washed out, and many others,
we had to drive 35 miles to get home to Watkins Glen."


"Mills Gas Station and cabins were at the bottom of Burdett Hill, within the Town of Dix.
Looking at the gas station, you would be looking south toward Montour.  The inlet bridge
would be to your right.  The cabins were backed up to the rocks to the left of the station.
The road going behind the station went to the dump.  The station and cabins were owned by
"Chunky" Mills' father.  I don't remember his name [probably Charles Sr., per 1920
census].  Chunky (Charles) Mills was the Prudential Agent and married
Marian (?) Flaggher (?) who taught in the High School."


Back to Photo Album Index page

Back to Online Resource Page