1916 Flood on the Catawba River

Dublin Core


1916 Flood on the Catawba River


Floods--North Carolina


This is a handwritten copy of the lyrics to the song, "1916 Flood on the Catawba River." A note at the end of the lyrics says, "Composed by E.L. Fant, July 18, 1916, Two days after the flood."


E.L. Fant


Bobby McMillon Collection, Southern Appalachian Archives, Mars Hill University


Southern Appalachian Archives, Liston B. Ramsey Center for Appalachian Studies, Mars Hill University




This item may be viewed, downloaded, and printed for personal and educational use, but any commercial use is prohibited without permission from the Southern Appalachian Archives, Mars Hill University. Questions may be directed to the Archivist at (828) 689-1262 or archives@mhu.edu.




Catawba River

Text Item Type Metadata


1916 Flood on the Catawba River

It was on one Sunday (Saturday?) eve,
many hearts were made to grieve
By the story I shall tell
'Twas the 16th of July
and Catawba's floods were high
from the awful rain that fell.

Long and constant poured the rain
till each brooklet, creek, and drain
made a torrent deep and wide
Then Catawba, from her head,
By these dashing torrents fed
roughly rolled and undefied.

Bridge and trestle swept away,
dams and houses too, they say,
Till they reached the Southern Main;
there the railroad called a crew
To save its trains and trestles too,
but their efforts were in vain.

Few, if any tears were shed
when their parting words were said,
As the workmen left their home,
Naught, or little, did they dream
that Catawba's maddened stream
Should engulf them in her gloom.

[second page of song]:
In an instant all was crashed,
as the heaps of rubbish clashed
'Gainst the trestle's might piers.
twenty men in all went down,
Chances were to swim or drown;
then came sobs and screams and tears.

When this tragic message spread,
of the missing and the dead,
Swiftly night was coming on
hands were wrung and hair was torn;
Men must work and women mourn
for their loved ones lost and gone.

Thanks to God not all were drowned,
some could swim and reach the ground,
Others lodged and still were brave;
but, when dams above were crushed,
Afterwhile their pleadings hushed,
for, they found a watery grave.

While your Lord and loved ones plead,
now, my sinner friend, take heed;
Cleanse yourself from sin and crime.
You are but a workman too,
on lifes road and trestle crew,
moving o'er the River of Time.

Composed by E.L. Fant
July 18, 1916 Two days after the flood

Original Format

Xerox of pages from a notebook titled, "Book Twelve. A Collection of Songs, 'Ballets,' Meeting-House Pieces, Verse, Riddles, and 'Sich' as That."


1916 Flood_Book 12_p1.jpg
1916 Flood_Book 12_p2.jpg


E.L. Fant, “1916 Flood on the Catawba River,” Southern Appalachian Archives Mars Hill University, accessed April 18, 2024, https://southernappalachianarchives.org/items/show/950.