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D in the Heart of Texas             

Jerry T. Dealey

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The Great 1908 Flood

Early History of Texas
The Europeans and American Settlers
John Neely Bryan – And Other Early Founders
Some Wheeling-Dealing to Grow a City
George Bannerman Dealey
The Dallas Morning News is Born
The Great 1908 Flood
G. B. Promotes Other Early Dallas Growth
The "City of Hate"
Building the ‘Subway’, Triple Underpass, Dealey Plaza
The Other Buildings Around Dealey Plaza
The Elder G. B. Dealey
The Dallas "Citizens Council"
The ‘Right Wing’ Direction of Dallas - "City of Hate" Revisited
A ‘Turn-Around’ for the Dallas Morning News
The Pre-November ‘Hate’ Incidents
Dallas’ Law Enforcement
November 1963, Why Dallas?
Dealey Plaza Changes To-Date

For a long time, Dealey’s proposed improvement suggestions were largely ignored. They were looked upon as projects that would be nice to have; yet the business minded leaders of Dallas were not about to put the necessary funds behind these ideas, as they felt there was little “payback” to such improvements. It would take a natural disaster to finally change their minds.

In the north Texas watershed of the Trinity River, it had been raining continuously for over 3 days. Over 15 inches of water had fallen over a vast area north and west of Dallas, and the Elm Fork and West Forks of the Trinity River had swollen into a torrent that was approaching the city. The two forks converged just north and west of downtown Dallas, then bottlenecked into a ¾ mile valley south and west of Dallas, towards Oak Cliff. This bottleneck made the river rise, and by early morning that Monday the water was as wide as 2 miles in some parts of West Dallas. In places the river reached a flood stage of as much as 52.6 feet!

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This is a photo of the 1908 flood, where the Trinity River reached a flood stage of over 52 feet. The river was up to two miles wide, and destroyed the bridges and ferries across it. It went to the edge of Hord’s Ridge (Oak Cliff today), and was impassable for weeks. The railroad bridge is the Texas and Pacific Railroad trestle, which lined up with Pacific Avenue, which runs one block from Dealey Plaza, behind the TSBD. When one of these trestles was washed away, 4 men on it were killed, and hundreds of horrified Dallas citizens watched the tragedy. The railroad tracks in the lower right corner are the same ones that are on the Triple Overpass, about where Elm, Main and Commerce go under them today. This flood prompted the move of the Trinity River from this, its normal location, to over one mile west.

Because of the flood, the cries of Dallas citizens to do something about the river were added to the city planning push by G. B. and the Morning News. However, the heat and sun of July soon dried up the river, and it was not long before people were once again driving over the gravel and dried mud road leading to West Dallas and Oak Cliff. It may have been soon forgotten, except Dealey started pushing for a viaduct across the entire river basin, modeled after an 1 ½ mile causeway across the Missouri, in Kansas City, Dealey had seen while visiting in-laws.

Dealey continued to push his viaduct and city planning issues, citing the disastrous 1908 flood as the consequences of city planning being ignored. He eventually successfully convinced the city to build the Houston St. viaduct in 1923. At that time, the viaduct was the horizontally longest concrete (not stone) structure in the US. The promoting also succeeded in a bond election in 1927-8 to build levies and redirect the Trinity River, to a point about 1 mile to the west of downtown Dallas (where it sits today).

IE150-1.GIF - 6031 BytesD in the Heart of Texas - Table of Contents
03LEFT.JPG - 1910 Bytes The Dallas Morning News is Born (Part 2)
03RIGHT.JPG - 1880 Bytes G. B. Promotes Other Early Dallas Growth

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Last edited June 3, 2003