Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, February 17, 2008, pg. 9
Continuing from last week, the Kalamazoo River began surging over the deck of the N. Superior St. bridge at 10 o’clock pm. on Saturday, March 7, pouring its waters through the stores located on the west side of the street. At the River’s crest at 1 am. Sunday morning, it was flowing over 1 foot high above the deck. Shortly before midnight, the buildings began shaking and canned goods dropped from the shelves. The over-the-river occupants, E.C. Deyoe, grocer, and Robert Cascarelli, fruit dealer, made a quick get-aways with their families just in time, as their stores collapsed into the waters below. The now-homeless Cascarelli family (which lived in the rear of their store) fled to the Commercial Hotel on W. Porter St.
Next to the north, the R.F. Church Jewelry store was the next victim as the result of the loosening foundation. Mr. Church had only just started to remove his stock, but had to flee as the building collapsed quickly. Mr. Church and his helpers barely escaped with their lives. The jewelry, gold and other valuables were swept into the River. Some items were retrieved a month later, but no doubt not everything was recovered and is probably still buried in the sand in the River behind City Hall. The Albion Recorder reported at the time, “Almost in the same minute the Church store, the fruit store with the second story, part of the Masonic Hall fell with another loud crash into the river. The air was filled with brick and lime dust and a horror stricken crowd shrank back from the piles of bricks that was so short a time before handsome stores.”
Following that went the Morse clothing store, and then the Temple Theatre which offered five-cent flicks. Stores on the east side of N. Superior St. were also damaged, including the McDougal Wood & Coal office building, which collapsed. During the day on Sunday March 8, 1908 as the waters were receding, a large crack appeared in the N. Superior St. bridge itself, and it gradually sank and collapsed.
Not just those over and adjacent to the river were affected. All of the basements on Superior St. were filled with water and many merchants lost heavily. Barns, sheds, wagons, lumber, etc. came loose and floated away. Gas service was disrupted for six days, and water main leaks plagued our municipal water system for weeks after the event. Dr. George Hafford ordered residents to boil their water, the Albion Public Schools were closed due to a lack of heat, and the White Mill was closed for several weeks because the water control gates on Porter St. had been washed out.
Could the Flood happen again? I doubt it. There is no Homer dam anymore which could break and our bridges are built much better than they were a century ago. This is one case in which we hope history does not repeat itself. This week from our Historical Notebook we present the classic photograph showing the collapsed buildings along N. Superior St. Next week: Reconstruction.
1908 Flood: The collapse of Superior Street
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic