The Arthur J. Trory Photograph Collection
The Early Years, 1895-1927
Exhibition Catalogue, 1976
The Prints | The Negatives | Camera Equipment | Flood of 1913 | Bridges | Portraits | Kent Opera House
FLOOD OF 1913
by REBECCA FOSNAUGH BUDD
Some of the most interesting prints found in the Trory Collection are those which depict local "disasters", with subjects ranging from train wrecks to snowstorms. Most abundant of these prints are those picturing the memorable flood of March 24-27, 1913. While it is difficult to attribute these works to the hand of Trory at this time, it is enlightening to note that the Kent Courier of March 28, 1913 mentions that Trory "secured" over thirty scenes of the flood.4 The term "secured" is here somewhat ambiguous, especially when one reads further that many amateur photographers were taking pictures of the flood along the banks of the Cuyahoga River. We do, however, have reasonable proof that Trory took at least one of the flood prints now in the Collection: that of water rising to the floor of the Stow Street Bridge This particular print (plate 1) is published along with two others on the front page of the April 4, 1913, Kent Courier, with a caption reading: "reproduced from photos by A. J. Trory." 5
Apart from establishing the attribution of the prints there is the problem of proper dating. At first glance there would seem to be no question as to the dates of the "flood" prints. One curious passage from Karl H. Grismer's The History of Kent proves otherwise. Grismer states that the flood began on March 31, 1913.6 This, however, cannot be the case since the Kent Courier had reported on the complete flood in its March 28 issue.7 The discrepancy on Grismer's part may be due to the fact that a flood took place on May 31, 1904.8 Here the question arises as to which flood is portrayed in the prints chosen for exhibition. It is safe to assume that the prints are of the 1913 flood for three reasons:
1) the 1904 flood was not of the magnitude of the 1913 event and would not have caused the extensive damage that one sees in the prints; 2) there is the fact that the Congregational Church, shown in the majority of prints, did not lose its steeple until the year 1905; 3) the print of the river rising to the floor of the Stow Street Bridge is the same as the one reproduced on the front page of the April 4, 1913 Kent Courier.
With the help of newspaper accounts a fairly valid assumption can be made as to what particular day of the flood many of the prints were taken. It is known that the Cuyahoga River rose to title floor of the Stow Street bridge early on Wednesday, March 26. This is indeed the event that one witnesses in first illustration. Plate 2 portrays the lock below the Main Street bridge as it gives way before numerous onlookers to the raging waters of the Cuyahoga River. An Erie train is shown stopped on the tracks, smoke billowing from its engines, Another print in the Collection (plate 3) shows a view of the river looking from the northeast towards the Main Street Bridge with the smoke from the same train visible in the far distance. These two prints could be dated sometime close to Wednesday noon.
The Trory Collection of "flood" prints is important for the nostalgic and historical interest they contain. The manner in which the photographer(s) captured the momentous events of the flood displays a thorough awareness of the craft. This is shown the attention directed toward composition and in the dramatic quality that permeates the flood scenes. These are prints which contribute to the world of photography in terms of aesthetic significance.