Facing Floods - Traverse Tompkins

In 1857, 1901, 1935, 1954, 1972, and 1981 the area was devastated by floods that destroyed property and threatened (and took) lives and livelihoods.

Facing Floods - Traverse Tompkins

Trumansburg, New York 14886, United States

Created By: Ithaca Heritage

Tour Information

*This tour was developed by The History Center in Tompkins County in 2022 as part of their annual Traverse Tompkins fundraiser**

Tompkins County has suffered several major floods throughout its history. Situated in New York’s Finger Lakes region, its many creeks and streams, (and Cayuga Lake itself), pose considerable threats during and after heavy rainfalls. In 1857, 1901, 1935, 1956, 1972, and 1981 the area was devastated by floods that destroyed property and threatened (and took) lives and livelihoods. In 1857 every bridge over Six Mile Creek in Ithaca was destroyed. In 1935 the small village of Trumansburg suffered five deaths and more than $700,000 in damages, a horrific toll that required state and federal relief assistance and took months to recover from. These and other devastating flood sites from around Tompkins County are included on this tour.

Traverse Tompkins 2022: Facing Floods was proudly supported by SERVPRO of Tioga and Tompkins Counties. Their investment in local history across Upstate New York lifts up communities after tragedies like major flooods (or fires - our Traverse Tompkins 2021 theme!).

Learn more about our annual Traverse Tompkins fundraiser at thehistorycenter.net/traverse-tompkins.


This tour is recommended as a driving tour, or for avid cyclists.



This tour and the lands it encompasses take place in the traditional and contemporary lands of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫˀ Nation (Cayuga), one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Learn more at thehistorycenter.net/land-acknowledgement.


Tour research & content developed by The History Center in Tompkins County in 2022.

Images from the Tompkins County Flood Photographs Collection, held by The History Center inTompkins County, and the Ithaca Journal Archives.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Six Mile Creek in the City of Ithaca is channelized through high concrete walls, and normally runs gently over the creekbed, a trickle winding its way out to Cayuga Lake. But on Sunday night, July 7, 1935, after more than seven inches of ra... Read more
A torrential rainfall started on Sunday July 7th, 1935, and fell throughout the day and into the night. By 3:00 A.M. Monday morning Trumansburg Creek had swelled into terrifying proportions, and an angry wall of water 12 feet high roared th... Read more
Hurricane Agnes in June 1972 was one of the most destructive hurricanes in US history, with more than $3 billion in damages in 12 states and more than 100 dead. The greatest impact was felt in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia,... Read more
Enfield Glen Reservation, now Robert H. Treman State Park (renamed in 1938), suffered extensive damage during horrific flooding in the heavy rains of July 1935. Beginning in 1933, young men from the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Cor... Read more
The Newfield Historical Society’s current (as of 2022) exhibit features Newfield Storms, floods  and other local natural disasters from the region. They are open the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month from 10-2 at 192 Main Street. Hurri... Read more
Jennings Pond in Danby was originally created in 1895 as a reservoir for the City of Ithaca's water supply, (although it was never used for that function), and has been used for recreational purposes for many years. In the 1930s the New Yo... Read more
In 1972 Hurricane Agnes became one of the most destructive hurricanes in US history, with 117 lives lost and more than $3 billion in damages across 12 states. Some of the worst damage was in New York's Southern Tier, especially in Corning... Read more
In December 1901 an unusual combination of rain, sleet and snow caused an unprecedented rise in local creeks and caused devastating flooding throughout the eastern part of the county. More than a quarter of a million dollars in damage was r... Read more
Owasco Inlet runs near the village of Groton, and during the devastating rains of July 1935 it overflowed its banks, flooding the village streets. Most of Main Street and Cayuga Street were under water, and people were forced to use a rope... Read more
Hurricane Hazel swept through Tompkins County and all of Western New York in October of 1954, leaving a death toll of over 20 in New York state alone. In addition to the lives lost, many buildings and homes suffered extensive damage. An air... Read more
Salmon Creek runs westward through the hills of Lansing to Cayuga Lake, and beginning  on the night of July 7th, 1935, after more than eight inches of heavy rain, it became a raging torrent that overflowed its banks. It destroyed a bridge ... Read more


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