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Tiffin 1913 Flood Tour Resurrects Ohio's Greatest Natural Disaster

TIFFIN, OH — On Easter Sunday, March 23, 1913, a deadly flood swept across most of Ohio. In Tiffin, the Sandusky River spilled from its banks and wreaked havoc from the north end to the south part of the city. By the time the Flood of 1913 ended, 19 residents had lost their lives and more than 500 people were homeless.

Throughout the summer and fall, journalist/author/historian Lisa Swickard, author of the two-time award-winning book Calamity and Courage: Tiffin’s Battle During Ohio’s Deadly 1913 Flood, is offering three walking tours designed to retrace the disaster and bring the past to life for participants.

“I walked the areas so often when I was researching and writing Calamity and Courage, it occurred to me that a walking tour would be a great way to offer readers a clear visual of the flood zone,” Swickard says. “It really puts things into perspective when you can show people the height of the water in various places, as well as some of the structures that survived.”

Throughout the tour, Swickard recounts some of the horrific stories gleaned from newspaper accounts and interviews she conducted with survivors 30 years ago.

One of the most popular stops is the former location of the Axline house on Frost Parkway — a structure that was ultimately was swept away, carrying with it owners William and Addline Axline.

“You really get a feel for the area in which they lived.” Swickard says. “On a good day when the river is low, it’s even possible to see the remnants of the original river wall that stood at the edge of their backyard.”

Daytime and evening tours are offered by appointment to groups and individuals. Swickard says the approximate 1-hour downtown tour is the most popular. According to her, “It’s a good length for groups, families, those in town for reunions or school kids as that’s where most of the drama took place in 1913.”

The cost of the downtown flood tour is as follows (Children 14 and under are admitted free on all tours.):

  • Downtown Tour — $5 for adults; $3 for children 15 and over.

  • Extended Downtown Tour — $7 for adults; $4 for children 15 and over. The

downtown tour, plus a walk to East Davis Street on the north end where 12

members of the Klingshirn family and four members of the Knecht family perished.

  • Entire Flood Zone Tour — $15 for adults; $9 for children 15 and over. The truly

hearty can opt for a daylong tour that encompasses the entire flood district — from the south end to the northern, East Davis Street location.

  • To schedule a tour, contact Lisa Swickard at or call 567-525- 9317. Visit the Virgin Alley Press Facebook page or for updates.

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