Sunday, September 12, 2021

Dad's memories & Pappy's photos of Hurricane Diane in 1955

(All of these captions are written by Dad) Northampton Street in downtown Easton, looking east toward Phillipsburg, NJ, and the Northampton Street bridge. Parts of this bridge were destroyed by debris floating down the Delaware River.
The Northampton Street bridge, showing sections underwater.


Those living in the United States are still recovering from the impacts of Hurricane Ida and its rainy remnants. That recovery will go for a long time in many places that suffered the worst devastation and flooding. Hurricanes and tropical storms are overwhelming natural disasters that work their way into the fabric of our history and the tales we pass down to each generation.

Of couple of days before Ida even formed in the Atlantic, Dad sent me his latest installment of childhood memories. In this case, coincidentally, it involved memories and his own father's photographs of Hurricane Diane, which hit the northeastern U.S., including Pennsylvania, in August 1955 — 66 years ago.

Here's what Dad wrote: 
How did I spend my 8th birthday? In August of 1955, Hurricane Diane hit the mid-Atlantic states and  a good portion of eastern Pennsylvania. Rain from the hurricane flooded the Delaware River valley and surrounding streams that drained into the Delaware. The worst flooding occurred August 19, 1955, my 8th birthday.

I found these photos. I believe Dad took the photos and I was with him.

At that time, there were three bridges crossing the Delaware between Easton, PA, and Phillipsburg, NJ. The 3rd Street bridge (the southernmost bridge), the Northampton Street bridge (this was the main street in Easton's downtown) and the relatively new Route 22 bridge (north of the Northampton Street bridge, connecting Route 22 in NJ to the new Route 22 in PA).

It took several days for the flooding to subside. Traffic between Easton and Phillipsburg could only use the Route 22 bridge for a long time. (How long, I can't remember.) My grandfather's house still stood after the flood and, after cleanup, became livable again. 

I had a rather low-key birthday that year.
Northampton Street in downtown Easton and the Northampton Street bridge.
The 3rd Street bridge south of Northampton Street. I believe this bridge was completely washed away and never rebuilt.
This is the Route 22 bridge, again looking east toward Phillipsburg, NJ. On the far left of this photo is a water tank. Not shown but two blocks away from this water tank was the three-story brick home of my grandfather, Frederick Hartford (my mother's father). It was on the Bushkill Creek that flowed into the Delaware River. At the height of the flooding, only the top of the chimney was above water.

3rd Street in Easton and the 3rd Street bridge.

For the record (and for search engines), the following businesses and signs are visible in the above photos: Epstein's; Hotel Easton and Hotel Easton Tap Room; Army & Navy; Coastal [something]; Lyons (carpets, linoleums, rugs); Pep Boys; Packard; and Kowitz Furniture.

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