Residents Reflect on 1950 Flood in Doddridge County - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Residents Reflect on 1950 Flood in Doddridge County

Posted: Updated:
Doddridge County Historical Society Doddridge County Historical Society
Smithburg -

The 1950 Flood in Doddridge County, West Virginia devastated neighborhoods, families and friendships.

It took the lives of 22 people in Smithburg and left 350 Doddridge County residents homeless in just a few hours.

The flood came with little to no warning, as June 24, 1950 started out as a normal, humid summer day. 

"Most of the people were just assuming it was going to be another thunderstorm. Very typical of this area. At about 6 o'clock the rain started. It started hard and then it just began to pour. Within two hours it had rained seven and a half inches," said Patti Harris, president of the Doddridge County Historical Society. 

Water levels reached heights more than eight feet tall.  Water speeds were enough to take the clothes off of your back. 

"The little sleepy Middle Island had become a monster of torrent," Harris said.

"One guy stood on the train, got up on top of the car. And while he was on top of the car, the water was so swift it took all of his clothes. When he got into town he had no clothes on," said Jack Calhoun, who was 19 and in the Navy when the flood happened.

It took homes like they were made of straw. And flattened bridges like it was nothing.

Jack Calhoun grew up in Doddridge County and lived in a place his parents called home since the 1920s.

He was 19 and away in Washington D.C. with the navy when he got a call that sent him rushing home.

"They called me and told me my brothers who were out fishing had disappeared and they thought they were gone, so I applied for emergency leave and headed home," Calhoun said.

Calhoun knew his parents were alive and well. Calhoun was unprepared for what he'd see when he got back into town.

 "It was just like driving through a different country, completely," Calhoun said.

Calhoun said the entire town was quiet as death and sorrow lingered in the air. He wasted no time getting home, still in his Navy uniform.

"I was wearing a Navy white uniform. Walked through the front door of our house which happened to be in Evandale. As I walked in, I opened the door, tripped in the mud and went sailing along. My white uniform all of a sudden was brown," Calhoun said.

Calhoun's brothers were able to get to safe heights and lived.

The Doddridge County Historical Society is documenting the flood and putting together a book for future generations to refer to. To share your story with the Historical Society email Patti Harris at d0ddridge_co.historical_society@yahoo.com or call 304-873-1540.