The Great Flood of 1965 – Do You Remember?

by Joan Weaver, Kinsley Library Director

I’m looking at a Hutchinson News special edition dated July 4, 1965 which reads, “They’ll never forget the Granddaddy of Ark Floods,” and I am wondering how many of you do remember it 48 years later? It all started on June 14, 1965 in Colorado with torrential rains, wind and a tornado. For 3 days it rained and the tributaries flooded into the Arkansas River and raced east dealing death and destruction from La Junta on into all the western Kansas towns and cities along the river. The waters reached Dodge City on June 19 and observers reported that it rose from 3.8” to 17.2” in 15 minutes. About 1500 residents had to evacuate the area. Now the river was pregnant with the tons of debris it had picked up on its 270-mile route when it reached Kinsley the morning of June 21. The Arkansas River flooding was exacerbated by Coon Creek whose water backed up into the city blocking highways from 3 directions.
I’ll be telling you more about this flood in the days to come, as it will be the beginning of our film’s story. We are very lucky to be able to include actual movie footage of the 1965 flood taken from the top of the elevator by Marvin Ryan. That is just one of the exciting aspect of this project as it seeks to rescue and preserve the memories, images and document which record the flooding issues as Turning Points in Kinsley’s history. Perhaps your memory or photo album can contribute to our understanding of this flood and any subsequent ones or the many attempts of the city to meet the challenges of living in a flood plain.

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