TORONTO -The city historical society's first program scheduled for 2 p.m. May 7 at the Riverview United Methodist Church will feature author and historian Roger Pickenpaugh discussing the great Ohio River Valley flood of 1936 and Ohio "Buckeye Blizzard" of 1950.
The program will include Pickenpaugh, author of "Buckeye Blizzard: Ohio and the 1950 Thanksgiving Storm" and "River on a Rampage," about the 1936 flood, talking about his research, the history and local impact of the two great calamities during the program, according to Carolyn Walker, society president, and Linda McFerren, society co-vice president.
"(Pickenpaugh) researched lots and lots of newspapers and interviewed people (for his books)," said Walker, adding the devastating flood virtually destroyed parts of the Ohio Valley. "Parts of downtown Pittsburgh were under water."
Local areas hit hardest during the flood included Wellsburg, Wellsville and especially New Cumberland, where homes and businesses were torn from their foundations. In Toronto, the former Follansbee Steel Co. was under water at the city's south end, while the former Ohio Edison Power Plant was flooded on the city's north end, according to Walker.
"There have been quite a few floods here, but this one devastated the entire Ohio Valley," she said, adding 107 were killed and 4,500 buildings lost during the great flood. "The Buckeye Blizzard paralyzed everything. We've got our entire window (at the society's Main Street Museum) devoted to those two events."
"The snow was so deep the snow plows were getting stuck," said McFerren.
Both said Pickenpaugh would go into detail on the history of the events and his research. "River On a Rampage" tells the story of the flood of the Ohio River from Chester to Marietta and is based on 80 interviews, said Walker. The blizzard still is ranked eighth on the list of the Top 10 Storms of the Century by the Weather Channel. The storm produced up to 40 inches of snow and drifts exceeding 20 feet.
Pickenpaugh is a retired teacher and the author of several books on Ohio history, including the Civil War era.
His book on Civil War prisons was awarded a literary prize by the Central New Jersey Civil War Round Table, and his next project will be a history of the ship "Carpathia," which rescued survivors of the "Titanic" tragedy.
"He wrote two books on Civil War prisons in Ohio," said McFerren. "He will discuss those books as well. All of his books will be for sale."
This program is open to the public, and admission is by donation. Both of the above books will be discussed, and anyone with pictures or stories from either of the above events is encouraged to bring them to share with others, said Walker and McFerren. Upcoming historical society projects will be announced in May, they added. For information, call (740) 537-2157 or (740) 537-3116.
(Miller can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)