Figure 1: Historic map from Follansbee & Spiegel
Figure 2: Contoured map with river streams using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology.
Figure 3: Rainfall map by Follansbee & Spiegel
Figure 4: Map of when the flood impacted towns along the river
Figure 5: Streamflow record for the Arikaree River near Haigler, NE from 1932-08-27 to 2008-07-18
Figure 6: Streamflow record for the Republican River at Benkelman, NE from 1895-07-01 to 1994-09-07
Figure 7: Streamflow record for the South Fork Republican River near Benkelman, NE from 1903-08-02 to 2008-08-11
Figure 8: Streamflow record for the Republican River near Culbertson, NE from 1915-06-17 to 1950-08-09
Figure 9: Streamflow record for the Republican River at Concordia, KS from 1903-05-29 to 2008-06-03
Figure 10: Streamflow record for the Republican River at Clay Center, KS from 1903-05-29 to 2008-06-03

Republican River Flood of May 30, 1935

 This website is dedicated to preserving the history of the Republican River Flood of 1935.

 

Fresh water moving at about 4 mph exerts a force of approximately 66 pounds per foot on anything it encounters. Double the speed of the water to 8 mph and the force increases to 264 pounds per foot, enough energy to sweep a car off a road. Disaster Medicine by David E. Hogan, Jonathan L. Burstein (Editors) – page 218

 

Where did the rain fall to create this flood?

Historic map from Follansbee & Spiegel.

Contoured map with river streams using GIS.

Follansbee & Spiegel

Follansbee & Spiegel

How rainfall was measured?

Since most of the rain didn't fall near the official cooperative weather observer's rain gages, a bucket survey was conducted to find the rainfall distribution.

Below are the gage stations mapped and listed that were used to create the rainfall map by Follansbee & Spiegel.

 

Follansbee & Spiegel gauging stations

A Closer Look at Impacted Communities

Below is a map of towns that we have taken a closer look at. Click on each town to learn more about how the flood impacted the community. Note: The community pages are still under construction at this time. More communities to the east will be added over time.

Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here Click Here

 

 

Map of when the flood impacted towns along the river

Times are given on the map below to indicate when the flood started to impact that town. The flood started in Eastern Colorado near Cope around 3 a.m. on May 31, 1935 after intense rainfall the day before. The flood impacted Oxford, Nebraska by 4 a.m. on June 1st; Superior, Nebraska by 1 a.m. on June 2nd; and Clay Center, Kansas by 2 a.m. on June 3rd.

Map of peak flood crest times

From Follansbee & Spiegel, 1937, the water traveled from 10.7 mph to 2.7 mph depending on the terrain. The following table shows the different speeds the water traveled from town to town.

Time water traveled

Location

Miles Traveled

Speed of Travel

5 hours

St. Francis to Benkelman

25

5.0 mph

45 minutes

Benkelman to Max

8

10.7 mph

2 hours 15 minutes

Max to Trenton

21

9.1 mph

1 hour 30 minutes

Trenton to Culbertson

10

6.7 mph

2 hours

Culbertson to McCook

11

5.5 mph

4 hours 30 minutes

McCook to Cambridge

25

5.6 mph

5 hours

Cambridge to Oxford

28

5.6 mph

Flood Inundation Maps

In the Educational Circular 16; published by Conservation and Survey Division, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2002 by R. F. Diffendal et al. titled Field Guide to the Geology of the Harlan County Lake Area, Harlan County, Nebraska - with a History of Events Leading to the Construction of Harlan County Dam, a map of the inundated area during the 1935 flood was presented and is shown below.

River Crest Data

There were six river gage stations along the Republican River Basin from Colorado to McCook. Click on the marker to see a graph of the river stages from May 18 - June 3, 1935 for that location.

Blue Green Purple Maroon Yellow

How does this flood compare to normal river flows?

Below are graphs from the river gages that show the peak streamflow for each year from times listed below the graph. The date of the peak, gage height, and stream flow are listed.  Click on each graph to enlarge.

  

Arikaree River At Haigler, NE

Republican River At Benkelman, NE

South Fork Republican River Near Benkelman, NE

 Arikaree River near Haigler, NE

1932-08-27 to 2008-07-18 

Peaked on May 31, 1935

Gage height = 11.20 feet

Stream flow = 50,000 cfs

 Republican River at Benkelman, NE 

1895-07-01 to 1994-09-07 

Peaked on May 31, 1935

Gage height = 13.10 feet

Stream flow = 50,000 cfs

 South Fork Republican River near Benkelman, NE

1903-08-02 to 2008-08-11

Peaked on May 31, 1935

Gage height = 10.10 feet

Stream flow = 150,00 cfs

Republican River At Culbertson, NE

Republican River At Concordia, KS

Republican River At Clay Center, KS

 Republican River near Culbertson, NE

1915-06-17 to 1950-08-09

Peaked on May 31, 1935

Gage height = 11.40 feet

Stream flow = 200,000 cfs 

 Republican River at Concordia, KS

1903-05-29 to 2008-06-03

Peaked on June 2, 1935

Gage height = Not available

Stream flow = 207,000 cfs 

 Republican River at Clay Center, KS

1903-05-29 to 2008-06-03

Peaked on June 3, 1935

Gage height = 25.74 feet

Stream flow = 194,000 cfs 

 

For more information about Republican River Flood History from the USBR click here.


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