The Androscoggin Flood of 1953

Raymond Albert's photos - roll 23
The Androscoggin River roars past the Rumford Dam in Maine during the March 1953 flood.  Compare the river to this photo of the same dam taken recently.

Since October, I have been sharing a collection of photos rescued from the estate of the late Raymond Albert – believed to have been taken by him in and around Rumford, Maine in the 1950s.  Of the 23 rolls, 22 are family photos showing weddings, family trips, important events, that sort of thing – all of which have been shared here.  This last roll is a little different in that the photographer went out to document a natural event during that time period – a flood which I believe to have taken place beginning on March 27-30, 1953.

Raymond Albert's photos - roll 23
Here, Rumford’s “Memorial Bridge”, also known as the Portland Street Bridge, can be seen in the background

I thought the photos were all so fantastic and captured the energy of the rushing river so well that it was difficult to narrow down the photos I’d share in this post.  Below is another photo showing the dam, with what appears to be chunks of ice tumbling over the rapids.

Raymond Albert's photos - roll 23

This photo shows where people have parked to have a look at the Falls, taken from just a few hundred yards back from the picture above.  It seems the flooding river did not pose much of a danger – no lives were known to have been lost that year, and despite the peak water runoff, the absence of a great deal of ice kept damage to a minimum.  You can see the scale of the falls relative to the cars and people in the foreground.

Raymond Albert's photos - roll 23

The site of the photo below is a mystery.  I thought it might be a photo of the falls, taken from above the dam, but current photos don’t show any road along the edge of the dam where the photo could have been taken.

Raymond Albert's photos - roll 23

In between Memorial Bridge and the falls/dam can be found the Morse Bridge (seen below).  I assumed the photo below that to be River Street – if you were to cross the Morse Bridge from Rumford heading east toward the Oxford Paper Mill, and then turned left.  But today’s River Street along that section bears absolutely no resemblance to the River Street of 1953 (if that’s where this was).  But there are few other places it could be.  Maybe when the mill downsized they completely razed the buildings on the riverfront.  Nothing appears to be the same.

Raymond Albert's photos - roll 23

Raymond Albert's photos - roll 23

Morse Bridge  The Morse Bridge and River Street as they appear today

Although no lives were lost, many of the lower-lying sections of town ended up underwater.  This unidentified road ended up submerged, and was a convenient boat landing for a few days, at least. At far left you can see a shed afloat.

Raymond Albert's photos - roll 23

Another street that became a boat landing for a few days was this one, where the (long disappeared) Bob’s Esso Service Center was located, along with a number of other small shops that can no longer be found in any Yellow Pages.  There’s another photo out there being claimed as Bob’s Esso, but it’s clearly a different place.  Maybe he had two?  Unlikely in such a small town.

Raymond Albert's photos - roll 23

Raymond Albert's photos - roll 23

Finally, there is one last photo that’s a mystery. Every other photo on the roll is from the flood. This one is too sharp and specific to be an accidental shutter release. Any idea what it might be?

Raymond Albert's photos - roll 23

To see the remaining photos from the 1953 flood of the Androscoggin in Rumford, Maine, check out this album on Flickr.

To see the other photos from this collection by Raymond Albert, check out this album on Flickr – or start reading about them from this blog post onward.

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