Glimpse at the Past

Historic Flooding - March 1, 1902

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A Glimpse at the Past

The most severe flood of the tidal Schuylkill River on record crested on March 1, 1902. It was an extreme example of a freshet, a type of flooding caused by a heavy rainstorm that melts snow upriver.

A typical high tide mark, or crest, on the Schuylkill is 6 to 6.5 feet. Flooding occurs when storms, strong winds, and/or other weather conditions cause the crest to rise to least 11 feet. At 14.8 feet, this record-breaking crest flooded the railroad tracks and buildings along the river.

The photos here show flood waters in and around the B&O Train Station that was located at 24th and Chestnut Streets.

exterior of B&O train station during historic 1902 flood, boats float above the rail yard

trains in the flooded train shed

inside the flooded B&O train station

Record floods on the tidal Schuylkill:

  • 10/4/1869      17 ft (this crest data is considered unreliable)
  • 3/1/1902        14.8 ft
  • 8/24/1933      14.7 ft
  • 7/9/1935        14.1 ft
  • 5/24/1942      12.4 ft
  • 8/9/1942        13.1 ft
  • 6/23/1972      14.7 ft
  • 6/2/1946        14.6 ft
  • 11/25/1950    14.3 ft
  • 11/22/1952    12.4 ft
  • 8/19/1955      14.3 ft
  • 9/13/1971      13.3 ft
  • 1/28/1976      12.1 ft
  • 1/26/1978      12.3 ft
  • 1/25/1979      13.0 ft
  • 7/7/1984        12.3 ft
  • 12/5/1993      12.4 ft
  • 1/19/1996      13.4 ft
  • 9/17/1999      14.1 ft
  • 10/9/2005      12.1 ft
  • 6/28/2006      12.5 ft
  • 10/1/2010      13.1 ft
  • 8/28/2011      13.6 ft
  • 9/8/2011        12.5 ft
  • 5/1/2014        13.9 ft

Sources: