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Your Link to the Past

Your Link to the Past

Floyd River Flood of 1926

Floyd River Flood of 1892

Floyd92_9Spring of the year 1892 came like many before. The Missouri and the Floyd Rivers were swollen but seemed to be under control. Unlike previous years, it had been raining steadily for the past three weeks. May 16 had been a day of constant downpour of rain. On May 17, in the evening, the Floyd began to rise, but no one appeared concerned.

About 6:00 a.m. the next morning a huge wave of muddy water rolled through the city. The citizens were not prepared. People were climbing trees, climbing on their house roofs and up onto the elevated railroad line to avoid being swept away by the swirling waters. At its high point the river swept from the base of Floyd's Bluff to Court Street by way of Fourth Street.

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Ruff Disaster of 1918

Ruff1The "Ruff Disaster" was one of the worst catastrophes in Sioux City history. Thirty-nine lives were lost and countless others were injured when the Hedges Block collapsed and fire started in the ruins. On June 29, 1918, the building that housed the Oscar Ruff Drug Company at Fourth and Douglas was being remodeled. The first floor was actually being lowered to the ground level, but the work was not considered dangerous. In fact, stores in the building were open for business.







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Other Sioux City Disasters

Fires have destroyed many Sioux City buildings over the years. In the years before electricity, candles and gas lights were a source of flame. The early fire departments were not equipped to stop a large blaze and many historic structures burned to the ground.

Baker and Bissel Fire
February 8, 1891 

Read more: Other Sioux City Disasters

Pelletier Fire of 1904

The Pelletier Fire was Sioux City's worst fire in terms of property damage. Sometimes called "the great fire", the inferno gutted more than two entire blocks of downtown Sioux City.


The fire started in the Pelletier Department Store, located where the Badgerow Building now stands. It was the evening of December 23, 1904. Pretty paper Christmas decorations hung everywhere and the store was filled with shoppers. In the crowded basement, a salesman prepared to demonstrate some mechanical toys powered by a small steam engine. The salesman struck a match to light the engine. Horrified onlookers watched as the head of the match flew off and landed in a "snowdrift" of white cotton. In an instant, the cotton caught fire and the flames ignited hanging paper streamers. Fire Chief George Kelly happened to be in the area at the time. He noticed the wisp of smoke curling up from the basement. Immediately, he called in the alarm. The firemen were there in minutes, but the building was already ablaze. Soon the six-story Massachusetts Building was engulfed in flames.

Read more: Pelletier Fire of 1904

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