Letter: Memories of the 1940 flood

Aug. 22, 2014 @ 09:36 AM

To the editor:

I was 13 in 1940 when the flood came, and I had a front-row seat, so to speak. I was spending a week with my grandparents. They lived in a big, old log cabin on a hill just as you turned from the then-unpaved Highway 268 onto Buffalo Creek Road that overlooked the fields below them, the bridge over the Yadkin River, Messer’s General Store as well as where Buffalo Creek flowed into the Yadkin.

It had rained for three days. Just before dark of the third day, Grandma saw the river rising over the bank near the bridge. She knew the flood was coming, and she didn’t go to bed that night. She walked the floor all night.

The next morning the rain had stopped and it was clearing. The water had receded, and we saw all kinds of debris piled up in the fields between the road and the creek.

After breakfast, I went with my grandfather and my uncle walking up the road the see the damage.

When we got within sight, we saw that the mill had been washed away, but the miller’s house below the dam was still intact.

It seems Capt. Weise, headmaster of Patterson School (the dam and mill and house belonged to the school) had taken the miller, Asa Baker, and his family to the school for their safety.

The house had not washed away because the doors were left open.

When we got there, several men, with scoops, were shoveling the black mud that had washed from the bottom of the dam out the doors. There must have been a foot or more in the house. The creek narrowed above the dam and made the force of the water greater.

Sometimes, my grandmother would have me take a turn (about a peck) of corn to be ground into meal at the mill. I noticed a metal pipe about 6 or 7 tall on the dam. After the flood, it had been bent almost straight out.

The miller’s daughter was about my age and we walked around. We found live fish in puddles of water and tools from the mill scattered everywhere.

The bridge over the Yadkin at Patterson was washed out as well as the Beach Ford bridge, but the bridge between, near Messer’s store, was intact because the water spread out over the fields and lost much of its force.

On Sunday, when Dad came to get me, he had to hire a car to come and get me as he couldn’t get across the river at Patterson. We walked over it on a kind of foot log to get to Dad’s car.

That was a different summer.

Joseph A. Goble

Lenoir