The Great Chemung River Flood of 1902
From the Elmira Gazette, March 1, 1902
At the low point between South Main Street and the Railroad Bridge, water went over the [levee] at 8:00PM. By 9:00PM a great torrent tore down Ferris Street and West Chemung Place.
South Main and Hudson Streets had 8 feet of water.
The next morning "everybody owning a camera had it out and the picture harvest of the flod of 1902 will be immense."
Men and boys played and rode bicycles in the water 1 foot deep on South Main Street. The crowd cheered. When they fell in the water - people cheered louder. Boating parties were hastily organized and cruises were taking place in all directions. Water was still very deep around Hudson and Partridge Streets. Boats tipped over. People laughed.
Spaulding Street - a great canal. East Hudson Street - 3 feet.
At 7:45AM a large crowd gathered at Water and State Streets to see the "water sights." They realized that boating in the business district was a novelty and made the best of the opportunity to use it. Camera enthusiasts were out in large numbers...whenever a friend would be met plodding through the knee deep water, the man with the camera would say, "Hold on a minute." The other looked up and he would be told to go on, for the one with the camera had taken a good photo.
The Southside [levees] were damaged or washed away. East of Madison Avenue bridge on the southside of Elmira, 75 feet of dike was gone.
The Buttonwoods were all underwater. The low tobacco lands (of John Brand) recieved a terrible flooding.
At a point in the Buttonwoods near where the lower dike is, an old man stood on a knoll watching the rushing waters. His situation was serious. Although the current was very strong, a young man and a boy went to get him. He was placed in the boat and got to shore. He was very frightened.
No fatalities occured during the Flood of 1902.
Guests registered at the Rathbun Hotel with their names followed by "flood bound." Guests came into the hotel lobby by boat and registered still standing in the boat.