Sand Creek on a Tear! the Ash Street Bridge

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Looking through HCHM’s photo collection for flood photos, there seemed to be a number of the Ash Street Bridge over time.  Sand Creek has flooded multiple times in Newton’s history, and the Ash Street bridge over the Sand Creek has been damage many times. The old bridge was completely replaced following the  flood of June 1965.

Sand Creek on a Tear! the Ash Street Bridge

May 1899 Flood


Evening Kansan Republican, 23 May 1899.

 May 1902 Flood

Evening Kansan Republican, 22 May 1902.

June 1904 Flood

The devastation following the June 1904 flood was overwhelming to Harvey County residents.  The Evening Kansan Republican (June 3, 1904) noted;

“Sand Creek, the despise and ridiculed, spread over its banks and overflowed the north end, for once a raging, destruction-dealing current.”

To read stories about the impact county-wide follow the link – Sand Creek Flood 1904. 


Flood of June 1904

The Flood of June 1904 was particularly hard on Newton’s bridges.

Evening Kansan Republican, June 3, 1904

At the July 8, 1904 meeting of the city commissioners it was reported that

“the West First, West Broadway and West Twelfth street bridges are now in good shape . . . work on the Ash Street bridge will be commenced by Contractor Lewelled and his men as soon as the weather will permit.”


June 6, 1916 Flood

Alarming, but did not reach the “former record.”

Evening Kansan Republican, June 6, 1916

 July 10, 1929 Flood


Ash Street Bridge, Newton, Ks, July 10, 1929. Note on the back reads “Just 10 minutes later the water was 3 feet over the top of the bridge.”

The Ash Street Bridge – 1954 & 1965


Ash Street Bridge, 1954. Photographer is looking south.

Ash Street Bridge destroyed by flood, June 1965. Photographer is looking south.

June 1965 Flood

Ash Street Bridge, June 1965.


Ash Street Bridge, June 1965.


Ash Street Bridge, June 1965 Flood. The bridge came to rest against the W. Broadway Bridge.


Debris from the Ash Street Bridge resting against the W. Broadway Bridge, June 1965.


Viewing the damage, Ash Street Bridge, June 1965.

Construction, Ash Street Bridge, 1967

Photo taken from 9th St.


New Ash Street Bridge, 1966.


Reconstruction of Ash Street Bridge, October 2012.









Never Thought to See Such a Flood: 112 Years Ago

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Evening Kansan Republican, 3 June 1904, p. 5.

Evening Kansan Republican, 3 June 1904, p. 5.

There had been “excessive rainfall” throughout the spring of 1904. Sand Creek and its tributaries were full to there banks and an early morning shower on  June 2 only added to the already saturated soil.  Later, in the afternoon, the Harvey County experienced a “deluge” and the “water fell in torrents, the streets were rivers of swiftly moving water.” Soon, Sand Creek was out of its banks, overflowing first at Main street in Newton. By late afternoon “the water began rushing in a huge stream through  and under the Missouri Pacific bridge across Sand Creek east of Main Street and north of Twelfth, then swept diagonally across Thirteenth, Eleventh, Tenth and Ninth Streets.”

Newton Flood, 2 June 1904

Newton Flood, June 2, 1904

The area north of east 10th and west 9th became a “great lake.” The worst of the flooding occurred between four o’clock in the afternoon and nine o’clock in the evening of June 2.  This was Newton’s first experience with a major flood. The next day the Evening Kansan Republican reported on the rescue efforts and damage caused by the flood.

Flood damage to a Newton bridge, 2 June 1904.

Newton Flood, June 2, 1904.

 “Many Heroes Develop”

“Women showed no hesitancy about mounting the horses astride.  they were too glad to get out, wet and bedraggled, but alive.”

A crowd gathered at 10th and Main to assist those coming to safety.

“As a wagon would come out of the flood with a load of men, women and children, wet bedraggled and not infrequently crouching . . . in fear. Willing hands would assist them to the ground and lead them to nearby homes where they could be supplied with dry clothing and given temporary care and assistance.”

Sheriff C. D. Masters “did valiant service carrying many people out of danger on his back.” Henry and Leo Steinkirchner “won the admiration of the crowd” by using their horses to carry people to safety. Livery owners, H.M. Judkins and D.S. Welsh, brought wagons and hacks to help with the rescue efforts.

In one story related by the Evening Kansan Republican, a rescue boat capsized when a small child panicked. Through the efforts of several men, everyone was pulled from the cold flood waters, including the child.  Throughout the rescue, the child’s mother was watching from an upstairs window unable to help.  The men involved in the rescue efforts battled not only the swift, cold current, but unseen dangers of barbed wire and other debris.  One rescuer, Harry Howe was “almost overcome and he admitted that he was not conscious of his actions or his words at the time.”

Newton Flood, June 2, 1904

Newton Flood, June 2, 1904

Although there was a loss of property, no lives were lost in this devastating flood of 1904.

According to several “old settlers” there had been two other floods that may have been comparable to the June 2, 1904 flood.  In 1877, the 9th street bridge was washed away during a flood, but little other damage. A rainy period, shortly after Newton was established in 1871, resulted in flooding.  The old settlers recalled that at that time “the flats were not used for homes and there was not danger to life but the creek on North Main street was a mile wide” during that flood.


  • Evening Kansan Republican: 1 June 1904, 3 June 1904, 4 June 1904, 6 June 1904, 15 June 1904, 18 June 1904, 29 June 1904.
  • Wichita Beacon: 3 June 1904.