Posted by: Diane Langton/SourceMedia Group News | March 27, 2009

Red River’s last record crest – 1897

            The Red River’s previous record crest in Fargo, N.D., was 40.1 feet in 1897.

            Most of the flood news at the time focused on the Mississippi Valley flooding that was not only devastating thousands of acres of land, but had taken many lives.

            President McKinley sent an appeal for aid to Congress that began:

            “Information which has recently come to me from the governors of Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, and prominent citizens of these states and Tennessee, warrants the conclusion that there is widespread distress, involving the destruction of a large amount of property and loss of life, resulting from the floods which have been submerging that section.

            “These are stated on reliable authority to be the most destructive floods that ever devastated the Mississippi valley, the water being much higher than the highest stage it ever reached before.”

            Congress immediately responded to the President’s request with an appropriation of $200,000 that “will include the Red River of the North.” President McKinley signed the relief resolution.

            How long did this take — from presidential request to signature?

            One day, April 7, 1897, the same day the Red River crested in Fargo.

            By April 8, The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette reported:

 “DANGER PASSED AT FARGO

“River is Receding, But Hundreds of People are Penniless

            “Fargo, N.D., April 8 – The water is receding and the danger point has passed in one of the greatest floods the city has ever known. Hundreds of people are destitute. The relief committee is doing all in its power for them. The secretary of war has wired Mayor Johnson asking the amount needed for immediate relief. The mayor replied that $10,000 was necessary.”

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