Desha County Historical Society

Dedicated to the preservation and declaration
of the rich history and culture of
Desha County, Arkansas

Renovated 1906 Courthouse

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 Photo by McGehee Dermott Times-News

A Moment in Desha County History 

April 21 - August 1927

     "The levees have given way!" These were words that struck fear in the heart of citizens of Desha County as muddy, swirling waters poured over breaches in the weakened Mississippi and Arkansas River levees in 1927.  Families scrambled to gather a few belongings and make their way to higher ground in the short time they had before escape bridges and roads were covered or washed away. All of Desha County except a part of Dumas and Jefferson township were completely covered in water from six inches to five feet.  Families that stayed lived in the second floor of homes and buildings, in tents on levees, even in boxcars left by the railroad.  Livestock and wild animals perished. Once rich farm land had topsoil washed away with sand left in its place.  The thriving timber industry never recovered leaving two failed banks and lost fortunes in its wake. 

     Homes and businesses were destroyed or heavily damaged.  Merchandise and service establishments were lost.  Drainage ditches were eroded or filled with sediment.  County roads and bridges were damaged or destroyed.  Streets and sewer systems in some towns were heavily damaged.  In cemeteries, head stones were dislocated and many graves washed away.  Water supplies were contaminated with many wells rendered useless.  The wildlife of the county was practically exterminated.  The poorest of the county suffered extensively.  (From "The Flood of 1927" by Judge Jim Merritt)

     It took several years and hundreds of thousands of aid dollars for the county to become somewhat normal.  More information on this worst disaster in Desha County history can be found in "The '27 Flood In Desha County" special edition for sale on the publications page.

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Desha County Courthouse during 1927 Flood

Arkansas City - Towards Adams Street - 1927

  First Street    McGehee - 1927

 

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