Austin Flood Information

Broken Dam and Lumber Avalanche, Austin, Pennsylvania, 1911


For a larger image, click on the picture
penn2.jpg (281881 bytes)
Emporium Lumber Company's hardwood mill at Austin, Pa. which stood the flood; c1911
H. M. Beach
gelatin silver print; 6.5 x 42 in.
PAN US GEOG - Pennsylvania, no. 30 (E size) P&P

     In January 1910, when the dam on Freeman's Run in Austin, Pennsylvania, cracked and slipped 4 feet on its foundation, the Bayless Pulp & Paper Mill spent $1,000,000 to repair the cracks and reinforce the foundation. However, few of Austin's residents believed the dam to be structurally sound. The Emporium Lumber Company, located about 1/2 mile downstream from the dam, shipped their highest grades of wood from its mills to prevent inventory loss should the dam break again. On September 30, 1911, heavy rains filled the Bayless reservoir and broke the concrete dam. An estimated 400 million gallons of water rushed over Austin and continued through the valley, destroying property as far as eight miles downstream. In Austin, 50 people were killed, and 38 more were reported missing or presumed dead. Only the Emporium Lumber Company Mill and the Bayless Mill remained standing. The Bayless Pulp & Paper Company (the owner of the dam) paid over $2,000,000 in negligence claims. The Emporium Lumber Company Mill, shown here, surrounded by its inventory loss, continued to operate in Austin for two more years, perhaps because of its foresight in keeping its inventory to a minimum.
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