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Wall protects city from flood

November 20, 2007
Parkersburg News and Sentinel
Since 1832 the city of Parkersburg has had more than 40 damage-causing floods. The worst flood, in 1913, crested at 58.9 feet and covered much of the downtown area with more than 20 feet of water.

Following another large flood in 1937, the city decided to erect a floodwall to guard against future floods.

Construction of the wall began in 1946 and was completed four years later in April of 1950.

The wall begins on the Little Kanawha River at the Fifth Street Bridge and extends west to the Ohio River and then north to 34th Street and Murdock Avenue. The project has 10,400 feet of concrete walls and 9,600 feet of earthen levee. It is designed to guard against a flood the size of the 1913 flood.

In the wall
63,000 cubic yards of concrete.
8,840,246 pounds of reinforcing steel.
600,100 cubic yards of earth.

Through the wall
There are 14 openings through the wall for highway, railroad and pedestrian access. During high water the gate openings are closed by hand using wooden or aluminum logs. The gates were last closed in 1992.

Construction of the wall
The concrete wall sections are built like an inverted “T” with the width of the underground base equal to or slightly greater than the height of the wall.

Height of concrete wall
Average: 21.5 feet, Maximum: 30 feet

Height of earthen levee
Average: 22 feet, Maximum: 30 feet

Source: "Floods and the Floodwall" published by the Parkersburg/Wood County Vistors and Convention Bureau

Article Photos

The Point Park opening with the timbers in place used during a flood.



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