In January 1937 one of the largest floods in American history inundated the Ohio River Valley. Many cities and towns on the Ohio and its tributaries were affected. Louisville and Southern Indiana were among those most devastated. Torrential rain together with some sleet and freezing rain fell from January 9 to January 23, raising the Ohio River to its highest recorded level. On January 23 the river at Louisville crested at 51.1 feet, and eventually reached 57.15 feet above flood stage on the upper gauge.
Louisville’s central and western neighborhoods and Jeffersonville and New Albany across the river were particularly hard hit. Sixty percent of Louisville was flooded and two-thirds of the city’s population had to be evacuated. Basic services were lost or interrupted. The military and thousands of aid workers lent assistance. Clean up and recovery took months and some areas, such as Louisville’s Shippingport and The Point neighborhoods, essentially disappeared. The gallery of images presented here is from The Filson’s Photograph Collection and depicts the massive destruction wrought by “The ‘37 Flood” in Louisville and Southern Indiana.