Dodge City Flood of 1965

FROM the Dodge City Weather Service.   

FROM the Dodge City Weather Service.


I was only about 9 years old when this occurred but my memories are vivid about not only Dodge City but Denver and Pueblo as well as other small towns along the way.

Our family was on vacation in Oregon visiting my Dad's brother when the flood hit. My dad rushes us homeward since we had family in Dodge City but there was nothing that could be done for them so we might as well have stayed out there.

We came down through Denver and Pueblo and I remember the railroad boxcars all scattered by the floodwaters and our drive down the Arkansas River had scenes of flooding in every town with some detours.

Towns were built along the River long ago for a source of water so are subject to floods that occur. I recall driving past Lakin an then Kendall where the highway was washed out and the sheriff was guiding people through the area

Garden City was a disaster and every town was flooded as we neared Dodge. The storm had dumped over 24 inches of rain in the upper reaches of the drainage and it had no where to go but down the river. John Martin Reservoir filled to over capacity and they had to open the gates wide open thereby unleashing a torrent downstream on the people below. Testimony from a worker on the dam said it was shaking with strain and its a miracle that it held

If you visit that dam today you can still see old logs along the upper edge of the dam from that high water level. At least you could see the trash 5 years ago when I last visited.

Dodge City was flooded badly and I remember the water marks on buildings in South Dodge 10 feet up on the walls. My Aunt Alice lived down there and her house was flooded horribly near Sunnyside School. Her sons were cleaning up when we arrived and there was about 2 feet of nasty mud in the house.

My Grandparents lived above the high water mark so we did not have to help them. My father was a pastor and he felt like we needed to check on things in Great Bend where we lived.  I remember Kinsley and Larned being flooded horribly and Pawnee Rock had water in every house there. Garfield also had massive damage being right on the river.

Great Bend had some few days warning and a valiant effort was put out to save the City. Men and boys and machinery converged West of town and in a few days time built a low dirt berm extending from the river up to the airport and higher ground. It actually did save the town from the floodwaters but just barely.

Later efforts along the River building huge dike systems have eliminated all but the worst threats from the Mighty Arkansas River today. But the smaller towns who could not afford these dikes remain at risk for the next deluge. Towns like Coolidge, Lakin, Syracuse, kendall, Ingalls, Garfield, Kinsley and others are right in the path for the next event.               Movie showing the flood.