Black River Falls: The Flood of 1911

© Photographed August 31, 2015
Black River Falls, Jackson County, Wisconsin

On October 6, 1911 most of the business district of Black River Falls washed away in the raging flood waters of the Black River. A week of constant rain swelled the area's river causing 3 dams to fail in succession on the Black River, sending the angry waters to wash away not only homes & businesses but the land itself.

Beginning at 4 AM on the morning of Oct. 6th, the Dells Dam failed! Then six miles downstream, the Hatfield Dam was cut through, sending the swollen pools of those dams slamming into the Black River Falls Dam. Residents & business owners fled to higher ground saving few possession around 12:45 PM. Around 12:45 P.M. the west earthen wall of the dam gave way, creating a swirling currant that began undermining the sand bank on which downtown sat, washing away most of the business district. In total 80 buildings were gone, another 20 uninhabitable & 42 acres of the downtown was washed away. No lives were lost, but the flood caused an estimated 2,000,000 [sic] in damages in 1911.

Through hard work and determination the downtown and dam were largely restored by 1914. The devastation caused by the flood spurred stated regulation changes for waterways, culminating in the passage of the "Water Power Law of 1915."
The mural is located on the grounds of the Black River Falls Chamber of Commerce, accessible from southbound North Water Street, south of its intersection with West Madison Street, at 120 North Water Street, Black River Falls, Wisconsin.

Jackson County Chronicle (May 4, 2011): Black River Days will mark 100-year flood

Wisconsin Historical Society: Photograph: Black River Falls Flooding 
A panoramic view of Black River Falls' flooded streets, possibly taken during the flood of 1911. 

Take a stroll through history! The History murals displayed throughout downtown Black River Falls and Jackson County celebrate the history, culture, heritage and ethnicity of Jackson County. Contact the Black River Area Chamber of Commerce for detailed information at 800-404-4008.
Black River Country Wisconsin: Art in the Outdoors

See also, Black River Falls: Our Dam History, also at this location.

Click here for a list of all murals photographed to date and to learn more about the mural project.

With the Black River Falls Chamber of Commerce building to the left.

The mural is located in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.

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