On July 9, 1869, the Colorado River rose to a height of 56.7′. The plaque above is on Main Street in La Grange, Texas; the entire town must have been under water.
Again in December 1913, the flood of 1869 was matched when the Colorado River reached an estimated discharge of 380,000 cubic feet per second.
The shock experienced by the citizens of La Grange was recorded in the La Grange Journal:
Customary as it is to refer to an incident in the history of a community, the application of that custom is permissible in this instance when we sit here in our demoralized office and attempt to describe the visit of the floodwaters upon the beautiful little city of La Grange, and the appalling site when the waters receded. Truly might it be said with impunity, with the exception of the yellow fever siege in 1867, La Grange has not been visited by a calamity heretofore that has left so many sad hearts and creates so much concern as that of the weeks just passed.
When the last issue of the Journal made its appearance on the afternoon of December 4, the citizens living in the flat were beginning to pack their household effects and removing to the Northern and Eastern end as fast as teams could be procured. . . . The hope was prevalent everywhere that the waters would not be excess of those in 1900.
However, the waters climbed well past the mark set in 1900 and extended to the courthouse square, where, on the night of December 4, they reached a depth of four feet.
[Source: Flash Floods in Texas by Jonathan Burnett]
The Flood In Texas
by Connie F. Sneed
5 August 1869 Farmer’s Cabinet Paper:
The Flood in Texas – A correspondent writing from La Grange, Fayette County, Texas, gives an account of the recent disastrous flood on the Colorado River, by which the town of La Grange and the surrounding country were completely submerged. The writer says:
“Great crowds of women and children stood at the water’s edge, and saw their homes filled by the flood, and many of them swept away or turned over where they stood. Saturday found the town deluged, for on the square end in every store stood four or five feet of water. It was wholly deserted, and all the inhabitants had fled to the high grounds and hills in the northern and northeastern suburbs. Quantities of provisions were destroyed in the stores. At Chalk Bluffs, four miles above, on the river bank, the scene was terrible. For fifteen miles, as far as the eye could reach to the north, west, and south, the country was one unbroken sheet of water. Here and there, in the distance, among the clumps of oaks, might be seen the roofs of houses but yesterday occupied by prosperous planters, now filled by waters. Nearer, above and below, on to the south and eastward, the zigzag track of the river was marked by the rush of oaks and cottonwoods that had stood for years. Side by side with these, in wild confusion, floated houses and dead cattle.”
When the flood subsided houses were found turned over or swung across the streets, fences swept away, boxes, furniture and small houses scattered about the streets, and everything in confusion, while the slimy mud brought in by the flood covered the walls and floors of the dwellings and stores. The damage to the town is at least $100,000, while the injury to crops and the country is estimated at millions. The overflow has never been equaled in the Colorado within the history of Texas.