Iroquois County Flooding in the 1950s
Reminiscense of a former Cissna Park Resident

The notion that the flood water would fill in the boiler room at the high school was quite familiar. I remember standing in our front yard on the north end of First Street (in Cissna Park) and seeing the water running north a couple of feet deep down the street, across the fields and into the music room at the high school in the 50's. That made quite an impression on me. And of course the boiler room opens off the band room, so that's where it went then, too.

I think it is almost impossible to imagine that much water south of town unless you have seen it running north down First Street.

The water came up to my uncle's front door; he lived a couple of houses south of us. It never quite got in their house, nor in ours, which were both built very close to ground level. There was plenty of water but First Street had enough pitch to it that the water flowed off fast enough to keep our houses above water level. Most of the older homes were built up several steps, and so were not in danger except in the basements. This was all in about '53, maybe June.

In the late fifties there was another giant flood, very similar, but later in the year (August of 57?). I remember swimming in the back yards in the alley between North First and North Second the following day, in water that was several feet deep but no longer running. By the day after that the water was starting to smell pretty bad, and the swimming was not very attractive any more. Lots of mud!

There was a lot of work done after each one to clean out the drainage ditches and Pigeon Creek so they would carry the water off. I think the problem was really in the railroad bridge east of town; lack of capacity there would back up the water around the bend in Pigeon Creek south of town until the fields were full enough to cross the railroad tracks in town, which was the lowest spot. I think these problems pretty much go with the territory when you live in a drained swamp!

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