The washed out section of Spring Street looking toward the lake, can be seen. Notice the railroad tracks suspended over empty air. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)
The collapsed wall of Tonella and Rupp's Rug Shop is shown on the south side of Spring Street. Notice the old storm sewer behind the women on the right. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)
The damage to the Reliable Service Garage on the north side of Spring Street is shown. Notice the four-inch water main hanging out of the side of the hole. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)

After last week’s heavy rain and washouts throughout Marquette County, we thought we would share some pictures from a previous storm. Between 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, 1949 Marquette County faced a torrential downpour. Marquette recorded 3.93 inches, while Ishpeming recorded a whopping 5.35 inches.

There were numerous washouts throughout the county including three miles of Chicago and North Western railroad tracks near Goose Lake. Between Negaunee and Ishpeming, Partridge Creek flooded leaving US-41 (now Division St) under three feet of water. Several mines were forced to temporarily close, either because their pumps couldn’t keep up with the water or their railroad tracks washed out.

The most serious washout was in downtown Marquette on Spring Street between Front St and Lake St (now Lakeshore Blvd). Both a brick and mortar storm sewer and a four-inch water main broke, washing out the street and damaging buildings on both sides of the road. When the water main broke, water pressure within the city’s system dropped from its normal 100-108 down to 60, cutting off water to the entire city for an hour and a half. Crews estimated that 500,000 gallons of water were lost.

On the south side of the street, a 40-foot section of the stone wall of the Tonella and Rupp Rug Shop collapsed. On the north side, the brick wall of the Reliable Service Garage began sinking and buckling but did not fully collapse. There was also damage to the Stenglein Printing Company building on the north side of the street.

Following the washout, the buildings were braced and shored up before the damaged walls were demolished. Once the threat of building collapses had been removed, the city began repairing the street. The old brick and mortar storm sewer was replaced with a new 60-inch concrete sewer and the massive hole was filled with 2,000 yards of sand. It took about a week and a half to fix the street; building repairs were expected to take two months.


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