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Imagery of 1939 flood on USACE Digital Library

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published Nov. 6, 2015
Homes are flooded by the Cumberland River in Eddyville, Ky., Feb. 14, 1939.  A family is still living in the house to the left.

Homes are flooded by the Cumberland River in Eddyville, Ky., Feb. 14, 1939. A family is still living in the house to the left.

Second Avenue is flooded from the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 11, 1939.

Second Avenue is flooded from the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 11, 1939.

This is a general view of Carthage, Tenn., flooded from the Cumberland River Feb. 7, 1939.

This is a general view of Carthage, Tenn., flooded from the Cumberland River Feb. 7, 1939.

Tennessee Avenue in Pineville, Ky., is flooded by the Cumberland River Feb. 3, 1939.

Tennessee Avenue in Pineville, Ky., is flooded by the Cumberland River Feb. 3, 1939.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 6, 2015) – An old photo album with historical imagery from the February 1939 flood of the Cumberland River Basin is now available to the public on the Internet in the USACE Digital Library.

Tammy Kirk, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District librarian, scanned more than 200 photos from the 1939 flood so that academics, members of the press, genealogists, and local historians can research and utilize the images.

“I have transcribed the caption information as well as textual information from the photos – mostly from signs,” Kirk said.  “I also, for some of the photographs, provided some description.  For example, some photos showed the Tennessee State Capital building in the background.”

Kirk said these resources are entirely searchable to the public within the USACE Digital Library.  Once the photos are recognized by search engines the items will be searchable on sites like Google as well, she added.

Bob Sneed, Nashville District Water Management Section chief, said the flood crest in Nashville for the 1939 flood was about four feet lower than what the area experienced in May 2010.  This historical unregulated flood event occurred before any of the modern dams were built in the Cumberland River Basin.

“Based on some records I reviewed it would rank eighth for a list of peak stages that the National Weather Service maintains on their web site,” Sneed said.  “This list of historic flood crests goes back more than 100 years.”

Kirk added that the photos document the impact of one of the most severe floods in the district’s history, and making them available online helps viewers to learn more about their communities and the time period represented.

To find the photos, navigate to the USACE Digital Library at http://cdm16021.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm.  Click on “photographs” then search “Cumberland River Basin 1939 Flood” using the quotation marks.  The photos can be searched within the collection by adding “and” and a search term such as a city name.

(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)