Dodge City Flood of 1941

This story has been shared by my father Fred Kirkpatrick Jr. who was born in 1930 in Dodge City and spent his youth there. ...THE PICTURE is of the 1911 flood in Dodge City and was a postcard from my Grandfather Kirkpatrick's collection of photos etc.

1941 Flood at Dodge City, Kansas

     I was 10 years old when the flood came to our home on Park Street in Dodge.  It began with a cloud burst in Colorado, south and west of Lamar.  Unfortunately this was before they built what they called Caddo Dam on the Arkansas River west of Lamar.  Since there was no flood control on any of the towns along the Arkansas River, everything west and east of Dodge City flooded.

     We had a small farm and had cows, and chickens and a black Cocker Spaniel dog, which I got for my 9th birthday, by the name of "Lady".  When the flood arrived it became necessary to move our cows out of the flood, since the area where they were kept was about 5 feet deep.  Of course the barn was flooded and the hay that was stored there at ground level was ruined.  The chicken house was not located on as low a level as the barn, and so the water in the chicken house was only about 4 feet deep.  We raised White Leghorn hens for their eggs and the nests for laying were in the chicken house along with the roosts which were about 3 feet above the floor and so were out of the water.  

     Our home was a bit higher yet, and the water came up just under the floor joists, but filled the basement.  Park Street ran east and west in front of our house and it was like a roaring river, very swift and could not be waded across.  We took the cows up a block or so north where the water did not reach and some folks looked after them until the flooding was over.  We lost lots of our chickens due to drowning.  A neighbors came and took my mother. and brother and sister, who was crippled from polio, out of the house in a boat.  They lost control about half way across the flooding street, and ended up about  500 feet east of our house, but no one was hurt.  My dad and I went out later after doing some last minute chores.  

     Since we had no place to go we ended up staying at the Trails End Hotel on East Chestnut Street, north and a little east of the Santa Fe Railroad Station and yards.  The hotel was owned by Joe Getche and was run by his sister.  They were Jewish folks, but not practicing Jews.

Joe had some land east of our place where he kept racing greyhounds.  They also had to be moved.  Joe dated my Kindergarten teacher, but as far as I know they never married.  Her name was Miss Andres.

     The flooding continued for about a week, and then we were able to go home.  What a mess it was, with about 6 inches of silt or what we called "flood mud" on everything.  Of course our fishing pond had overflowed and most of the fish had washed away, and the wells which we used for water to irrigate with were never the same.  Our primary irrigation pump, was severely damaged, and what had been a 100 gallon a minute well was reduced to about 60 gpm.  The electric motor which drove the centrifugal pump had to be taken out and repaired since it was full of mud.  It took several years before the damage to the irrigation system, and all it entailed was finally completed.  My dad in an attempt to dislodge the mud from the irrigation well borrowed a high powered rifle and fired several rounds into the well, it didn't seem to help much.

      The cows finally came home and the barn was cleaned out and the hay was thrown away, and they had to live on purchased hay until some new crops could be planted and harvested.  The chicken house was cleaned out and the chickens resumed their egg laying.  We survived, but were always looking over our shoulder for the next flood.