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40 years since record flood

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River Falls,Wisconsin 54022
Hudson Star Observer
40 years since record flood
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The St. Croix River spilled over its banks at a record level in the spring of 1965 and to this day, the records set 40 years ago still stand.


The winter and spring of 1965 saw record snow falls, including two big snow storms just before the weather suddenly turned warm. The result was a massive snow melt and record flooding throughout the upper Midwest.

The St. Croix River crested at 694.08 feet before the flooding began to subside. Among the major impacts to the Hudson area was the closing of highway 35 in front of the wastewater treatment plant in Hudson. Flood water eventually surrounded the plant and the road was closed. The sewer plant was finally forced to cease operation and raw sewerage went directly into the river.

The Hudson bridge was one of the few on the St. Croix that remained open during the flooding, but officials said that if the water had gone just one-foot higher, the Hudson bridge would have been closed as water encroached the approach on the east side of the bridge in Hudson.

The approach has since been raised considerably and even the record level of 1965 would not threaten the bridge today.

Another facility that was impacted was the United Refrigerator Plant which was located in what is now part of Lakefront Park. The plant was in the area near and south of the current band shell. The Star-Observer reported that sandbag crews were working around the clock. The paper said "estimated cost of the protective measures at United is reported to run well into five figures.

Even the best efforts, however, did not keep the plant dry. Pumps worked continuously to remove water that continued to seep into the plant through the ground, or through various leaks in the dikes built around the plant.

The newspaper also reported that "high school junior high school boys were dismissed from school Wednesday afternoon and Thursday last week to help in the frantic effort to protect danger areas."

The floodwaters affected homes along First Street and South Front Street in Hudson

Sandbagging was not only done along the St. Croix River, but also along the Mallalieu as water backed up over the dams and created problems for home owners near Proehl's Point and along Riverside Drive in North Hudson.

The flood also closed the Andersen Window plant in Bayport. The Star-Observer reported that it was the first time the plant had closed in 52 years.

The Hudson railroad bridge also remained open during the flood, and was the only link between the Northwest and Wisconsin along the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers. Many trains from lines, other than Chicago Northwestern, used the Hudson tracks to get their east-bound trains out of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The Star-Observer reported that traffic increased to about 35 trains each day through Hudson.

It, however, took a massive effort to keep the Hudson tracks open. A total of 100,000 tons of rock ballast were dumped to protect the railway embankment from icy pressure. A crisis was averted one day when a crew from the Corps. of Engineers dynamited three huge ice floes headed toward the railroad draw bridge.

The Hudson Marina also suffered damage, with 60 percent of the docks being town away by flood waters and ice.

Preliminary reports in 1965 showed damage to public and private property in Hudson and North Hudson at about $1 million

Of course, the flood waters eventually subsided and headline on the front page of the May 6 Star-Observer read: Unemployed Hudson Youth Needed in Flood Cleanup. A state and federal program known as "Neighborhood Youth Corps" kept many local youth employed during the summer of 1965.