f/8 and Be There
Fred Lynch

Main Street Boaters

Posted Friday, April 29, 2011, at 7:30 AM

Two unidentified men used a motorboat to travel a flooded Main Street in 1951. The photo was taken between Themis and Independence streets, looking south. (G.D. Fronabarger photo)

The picture was probably taken when the Mississippi River reached its highest stage then at 41.8 feet.

Stores on the west side include F.W. Woolworth Co., J.C. Penney Co. and J.J. Newberry Co.

July 18, 1951 Southeast Missourian

Free Parking, Now

This week's parking meter patrol on the flooded south part of Main street was undertaken by boat this morning. Meter Patrolman Troy Propst manned the paddle of an aluminum boat to take out the complete mechanism of 27 meters on Independence and Main streets to protect them from a rise that would put water into the working parts. He had previously removed the clock section from seven other flood-endangered meters. Water is not expected to affect the empty meter heads.

July 26, 1951 Southeast Missourian

Ohio Obliges as Stage Stays Low

Somewhere between Cape Girardeau and Cairo, Ill., the big flood of the Mississippi is running out, and somewhat of a mystery could be made as to where all the water is going.

When the river reached its highest mark of 41.8 feet here this week, it was by comparison a mere trickle at Cairo, where the stream joins the Ohio. Yet, at Commerce almost midway between the two towns, it was up in the streets.

The Bird's Point floodway seems to be in no danger of a flood. It is getting some little backwater through the south end of the spillway sector, but its chief damage now is being caused by surface water brought by excessive rains.

It Could Be Different

The stage of the river at Cairo is only 40 feet, while it takes from 52 to 55 to cause concern in the floodway area. Cairo itself can withstand a stage of 60 feet, or higher.

Solution to the apparent mystery as to the disappearance of the flood water appears to lie in the fact that the stage of the Ohio river has been low. Fortunately this has always been true in the past. When the Ohio floods the Mississippi is low, when the latter runs wild, the Ohio is docile. However, the question is will it always be that way?

In this previous blog and audio slideshow, Frony talks about river flooding in downtown Cape Girardeau.

A previous blog shows a flooded Batten-Weiss Furniture store published July 26, 1951.


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  • Any record of the river level when this photo was taken?

    -- Posted by ziggie on Fri, Apr 29, 2011, at 8:57 AM
    Fred Lynch
    The photo was probably taken at the highest river stage that year at 41.8 feet.
  • Awesome photo!

    -- Posted by bobby62914 on Sat, Apr 30, 2011, at 1:38 AM
  • Not to belabor the point made elsewhere, but scenes such as this caused the Downtown Merchants to construct their own flood protection, without relying on an increase in public tax.

    -- Posted by semowasp on Sun, May 1, 2011, at 10:47 AM
  • The other man in the photo that is in the boat on Main Street is Harold R. Pruitt Sr. Dad had some copies of this photo and told us (7 kids) about going down main street in the boat many times. It was so nice to see it in the paper. Dad passed 7/17/2006.

    -- Posted by metripp on Wed, Mar 27, 2013, at 12:46 AM