RESTORATION UPDATE

8359aHi folks. I know an update has been a long time coming, and I apologize for keeping you waiting for so long. A lot of things have been going on around here and a lot of it is not worth discussing. But you should rest assured that the disassembly work and the foundation work has all been moving along at a quicker pace than we expected. I would say that in another week, you will see the new “old” store begin to emerge. Again, keep in mind that this is not your ‘normal structure construction’ that everyone is so used to. We are doing things exactly as there were done in 1831. We just have better and more efficient tools and help-aids.

This summer has been a grueling, miserable, hot (as you know) time to be disassembling old houses and buildings. Ed, Eddie and Dustin have been determined to get this project completed and ready for the construction phase. They are so dedicated, focused, and passionate about the roles they are performing. When this project is completed, it will have been an unprecedented undertaking in the world of Historic Preservation.

They have already successfully prepared the store foundation and sill logs to assist the “phoenix out of the ashes!”In about one more week, the materials will all have been gathered and mostly de-nailed and stored away. You can now expect to see things happen, just like you have been anticipating for the past six months (believe it or not!) Good things take a little time!

The replacement footers and piers, posts, and sill logs are all in place, ready for the main building to commence. A very significant surprise and gift was donated to the community by one of our neighbors. Dale Bardes arranged for all the necessary sills logs to be custom sawed from a mill down in Kentucky (I believe) and trucked up here to the site. This was a major gift and boost for the project. And they are all in place. Whenever you see Dale, be sure to offer him your thanks and appreciation. Rabbit Hash people are just amazing!

The old Florence, Indiana bank and Masonic lodge building has been a godsend for us. But it has also been a living hell! Six to eight inches of 100 year-old pigeon dung graced us in the attic and made demolition that much more difficult and uncomfortable. But, under the shit was the Shinola! This building is providing us with the much needed 25 foot long 2 by 12s needed to complete our foundation and walls.

Amazingly, even the roof sheeting was brand new mill-sawn red oak one-by boards. I have never seen brand new lumber used as roof sheeting before. It is always second or third hand recycled barn lumber or scrap flooring. So, the store’s sub floor promises to be a very tight and sturdy base to apply the old and the recycled tongue and groove pine flooring that we all are so used to seeing.

Stay tuned. Now that we will be back in town, I will be able to have more time for updates and photographs. Now you can take a seat by the beautiful Ohio River and watch the progress go backwards!

Donald E. Clare

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RABBIT HASH SEEKS NEW MAYOR

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BECOME A PART OF HISTORY!

Rabbit Hash Mayor, Lucy Lou, has instituted term limits and is set to retire on November 8, 2016, opening the door to a new mayoral election for the town. She is the first Rabbit Hash mayor to NOT die in office. The new mayor will become the very first mayor of Rabbit Hash to succeed a living mayor.

QUALIFICATIONS

Candidates may be biped, tri-ped or quadruped and must be able to chase a rabbit from their home to the Rabbit Hash town center within one hour’s time. (Ducks and geese are still excluded).

ELECTION PROCESS

The election process will begin on Old Timers Day in Rabbit Hash on Sept. 3, 2016. Declared candidates will register by casting 1 (one) vote for themselves in the form of 1 (one) dollar at which time his or her name will be added to the tally board. Candidates may register any time between Sept. 3 and Nov. 8.

Voting is open to anyone, any age, anywhere in the world. Votes are cast by writing your candidate’s name on a ballot, then paying $1 to submit it. You are allowed to vote as much and as often as you like, and stuffing the ballot box is encouraged. Bribery and graft among the candidates is acceptable. The Rabbit Hash Historical Society will accept votes via this website through paypal, by mail and in person at the Rabbit Hash General Store. A tally board will be kept at the store and updated on this page.
The final tally will be held in Rabbit Hash on the evening of Nov. 8 in the store. Votes are accepted up until the last ten minutes. As in politics everywhere else, the candidate with the most money will become the next mayor of Rabbit Hash KY.

Candidates are invited to register and appear for an introduction to the public at Old Timers Day on Saturday Sept. 3rd! The distribution of campaign material and the kissing of babies is highly encouraged!

You can also declare your candidate on www.facebook.com/RabbitHashMayorElection. Your candidate will become official when the first vote is paid… um, cast!

Good luck and may the best man/dog/cat/jackass/or other species, WIN!

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RESTORATION UPDATE

May, 18, 2016

by   Don Clare

Hello friends and supporters.

We had a very good turn-out for our public meeting this past Monday at the Boone County Extension Service Meeting Rooms. What a great facility!

If you were unable to attend, you missed a great presentation hosted by Mike Striker, our project manager, who is a principal at Gray and Pape, which is a nationally recognized Cultural Resource Management and Historic Preservation Management Company. Rabbit Hash is lucky to have their Kentucky office located in our town.

Also present to answer questions was Harry Sparks, retired owner of AGI Architectural Firm who is serving as our project’s historic architect and consultant. Harry is donating his services to the cause just because of what Rabbit Hash means to him and his many musician and artist friends who call Rabbit Hash their home.

Ed Unterreiner, our General Contractor and owner of Rivertown Construction and Terry Sawyer, the Rabbit Hash and regional construction-art innovator and master were both there, representing the ‘bricks-and-mortar’ experts.

And, of course, the Rabbit Hash Historical Society was in house, acting as host and resource managers.

Every bit and piece of up-to-date information and planning was presented to the attentive audience. This was a ‘stakes-holder’ meeting, meaning that we were there to provide every one with as much insight, information and planning involved in this restoration process as we had.

The meeting was well received and questions answered as best as could be. Some things are still up in the air and not yet determined. When they are, you will be kept up-to-date.

I wanted to update you on the progress of our materials acquisitions over the past few weeks. We were given an historic house in Bullittsville to dismantle, by Vicky and Mike Toebbe. It is a very high-style 1880s structure that was atypical and unusual in that kind of rural, agrarian setting with 11 foot ceilings, highly crafted doors, transoms, trim, mantles and an elaborately hand carved, curved, grand staircase. The house was  entered from a superbly fancy, tree lined drive up to the residential structure, with myriad outbuildings and farm-related barns, sheds, milk-house, and so on that were typical of a working farm. But the residential structure was far from the typical farm house.

IMG_1291loresIMG_1261loresThanks to the Toebbe Family’s insight and gracious generosity, the structure was donated to the Rabbit Hash Historical Society for dismantling and use in the restoration of the General Store. The house sat vacant for at least 25 years and the lot itself served as a hog, cattle, and goat lot for all those years. As surmised by the Toebbe’s, the house, by now, was beyond restoration. The entire lower floor was practically eaten away by the termite family, and the upper stories became home to raccoons, opossums, and other rodents along with numerous bats and bird species. Several abandoned bee hives were also uncovered. It was a very popular habitat….just not for humans!

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Not sure of the age of the house, or the original owner, or the builder, we met a lady who lived in the house for many years, and currently lives in a newer-build home just next to the structure. Her name is Norma Long, and she lived there with her parents and brother for many years. She is all that is left now. She told us that she thought the house was originally built in 1889, according to family oral history.

Well, lo and behold, we found two separate pieces of door trim dated and signed by the builder (presumably). They were marked “1886, Rice”. We are currently seeking the assistance of the local history department of the Boone County Public Library, headed by Bridget Striker, to lead us to further knowledge of the structure, the original owner, and the builder. More to come on that, hopefully!

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Viewed as a providential gift, this house is going to relinquish SO many pieces of needed materials for the full restoration of the General Store, it is almost unbelievable! We are getting a multitude of tongue-and-groove flooring, which not only covered the store’s floor, but also the walls and ceiling; along with the exterior clapboard; the thin beaded ceiling boards that covered the up-river bay shed; numerous 2×12 floor joists, used throughout,  and solid pine sheeting used for subfloors in both bays as well as exterior bay siding. Then the multiple roof rafters, roofing tin, ceiling joists, trim boards and various other dimensional lumber examples are so needed and available. This was the perfect structure to meet a lot of our materials needs!

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We cannot thank the Toebbe Family enough for this most important and necessary donation of materials, encouragement and support.

In addition to this much needed structure, we are also the benefactor of materials from an 1850s mansion in Fort Wright which is being professionally dismantled by Green Rhino Company for the Maile Company, who has graciously donated flooring and clapboard and floor joists.

Volunteers are always welcomed, if you don’t mind real scut work! There are still some needs that are eluding us. We are in dire need of 20 foot long 4inch by 12 inch timbers, for the floor joists in the central bay area. Also, we dearly need 10 inch by 12 inch 40 foot log beams for the foundation beams.

Something that is non-wood related that we sorely need right now is a 40 foot by 40 foot tarp….preferably not one of those cheap plastic blue tarps, but a REAL tarpaulin    that will last. We need to keep the foundation free from the weather while we are preparing the restored foundation. This is one of our major needs if anyone has access to these tarps. Please let us know if you have any leads.

That’s about it until next time…..and there will always be a next time…..

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Southgate House “Restore The Store” Benefit

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If you love live local music then there is no way you should miss the upcoming benefit at the Southgate House Reunion. This is an AMAZING lineup of over 30 acts for only $20/person for 2 days! All proceeds benefit the restoration of our beloved Rabbit Hash General Store! So check out this list of what YOU get, then click the link and get your tickets now!!!
 
SATURDAY May 28th
 
Sanctuary

8-Welcome

815 Jake Speed & The Freddies

915 Honey & Lauren Houston

1015 Wilder

1115 Almighty Get Down

1215 500 Miles to Memphis
 


Lounge

8 Center of The Universe Band

9 Ricky Nye

10 Harlot

11 Lightening Tim Trio

12 Lovecrush 88

1 Mudpies
 


Revival Room
730 G Miles

830 Lawson Family Reunion

930 Hickory Robot

1030 Rabbit Hash String Band

1130 Part Time Gentlemen

1230 Lagniappe
 


SUNDAY May 29th
 


Sanctuary

4 Welcome
430 Leroy Ellington

530 Ma Crow & The Lady Slippers

630 Shiny & The Spoon

730 Krystal Petersen & The Queen City Band

830 Magnolia Mountain

930 Kentucky Struts

1030 Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustly

1130 The Tillers
 


Lounge

5 Judge & Jury

6 The Turkeys

7 Moonshine & Wine

8 Anna Mae

9 The Swells

10 Dallas Moore
11 The Modified

12 Andyman Hopkins

1230 Open Mic
 


Revival Room

515 The Crick Gypsies

615 Hobilly

715 The Less Moore Band with Todd Hepburn

815 Strawboss
 

* Silent Auction will be in The Revival Room 5-9
 Click the link (or copy and paste in your browser) for tickets:
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Restoration Update

by Don Clare

 

It is with a big sigh of relief to report that the dismantling, de-nailing, hauling and storing of the surviving materials from the Store are completed. Last Friday we had a general community clean up of the General Store site and a large number of you donated your time and labor to spruce things up and prepare for the next phase.

It is uplifting and cathartic to be rid of all that charred wood, ashes, melted this-and-that. Especially that acrid smell that hides up in your nose and on your hands and clothes. There has been a lot of painstaking planning and preparation to get us to the actual planning and preparation of the next and upcoming phase. If that sounds redundant, it really isn’t. We actually had to meticulously research, plan, get approval for, recommendations for, permission to, meet with, place calls to, send pictures, compare similar needs for, review and study precedents and take inventory of all our tools in our Historic Preservation Toolbox before we could actually begin planning and preparation for the actual restoration.

All of this was possible because of the highly talented and professional services offered us by Gray and Pape, a nationally recognized Heritage Management and Cultural Resource Management Company, which has one of its branch offices right here in Rabbit Hash, Kentucky. And since they are a part of our community, they graciously donated their services in the form of Mike Striker, one of the senior partners in the firm, who is acting as Project Manager of the historic restoration of the National Register Rabbit Hash General Store. Mike is a proven veteran in this field and we are so fortunate to be benefitting from his experience and expertise. Mike will be leading our public meeting at the Boone County Extension Service meeting rooms on Rt. 18 Burlington Pike in Burlington on Monday evening, May 16th at 6:30 -7:30 PM. This is called a stakeholders meeting because we were all negatively affected by the tragic loss that the fire caused and we all have a stake in the place that meant so much to all of us, our families and our ancestors. The Rabbit Hash store was part of our collective state and county history and heritage. We want you to know what is going on with the project and answer your questions and concerns and be a part of its successful outcome. You are a stakeholder because out of your unbelievable generosity and support, we have the resources to see this restoration through….be it by your financial donations or your volunteer labor or your donated materials, artifacts and tools. So please make a note of this meeting and join us for the latest updates and information.

The architectural drawings are entering into their final steps of revision and will soon be ready and available to our expert team of building professionals. Harry Sparks, retired owner of the prestigious regional architectural firm, AGI, has also offered his expertise and professional services in preparing the precisely accurate and historically exact renditions of the structure. Harry is also an industry iconic luthier and professional bluegrass guitar player who has performed on the Grand Old’ Opry stage, many years after serving his musical apprenticeship in the Rabbit Hash General Store as a member of the original Rabbit Hash Ramblers. So he knows the importance of that acoustically mellow wooden interior that makes music sound so good and pleasing inside those walls.

Harry will turn over the completed drawings to Ed Unterreiner who will serve as our General Contractor for the project. Many of you know Ed as one of our long time neighbors and expert builder with many, many Rabbit Hash structures under his belt. If you are old enough to remember ‘that modern solar house half way up that hill’, that was Ed’s doing. I am referring to the Peter Schwartz house (now the Licis’) which was one of the Rabbit Hash wonders in the early eighties when the old-timer skeptics were highly amused with the thought of harnessing solar power for anything other than the growth of a tomato plant. Ed also built Foals Paradise ‘up on the hill’, now Beacon House Farm for baby doll sheep. He can also add the Mutt Mitt campus to his list, as well as the owner’s private residence, just up the hill and behind our town. And when Ed is not building major regional BMW showrooms and complexes, he is content with handcrafting is own showcase ‘little house in the country.’ Ed is an instrumental founding member of the Rabbit Hash Hunt Club, affectionately referred to as the Knife and Gun Club.

Just to make things a little more exciting and to up the ante on authenticity, historic accuracy and correctness, and the aesthetic element of beauty and art using the medium of salvaged building materials, we have the mid west’s highly acclaimed master log home and barn builder, Terry Sawyer, who will turn those old beams, rafters, joists and boards into our own “revenant” General Store (The definition of the word revenant is basically something that disappeared from our lives only to mysteriously re-appear at some point in the future. That is what the Rabbit Hash General Store is going to do! Good things take a little time. It has been said many, many times that the Rabbit Hash area of Boone County is the Commonwealth’s highest concentration of removed, rebuilt, restored, rehabbed and retro-fitted log houses. Period. Now, I don’t know the primary source of that statement, nor did I check that statement with Snopes.com, but I do know that the reason for the statement is Terry Sawyer. He most likely would have been the star of that DIY public television show “Barnwood Builders” when it first appeared, but they couldn’t get him to stop working and start yapping about it.

The Rabbit Hash Historical Society is very pleased with our progress thus far and is extremely thankful to all of you for your generosity, support and physical help and assistance. We feel we have the best team possible to get this restoration completed, and we are anxious to step into this next phase. Remember to join us at the public meeting on May 16th.

Stay tuned……

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Public Meeting Planned for Rabbit Hash General Store

Rabbit Hash, KY: Stakeholders are invited to a meeting for the Rabbit Hash Historical Society to provide an update and information on the progress of rehabilitation of the General Store.

Representatives from firms assisting with the rehabilitation will provide information and answer questions. Attendees will receive an update about the rehabilitation plan and information on upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Stakeholders will have an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on the plan. Space is limited, so registration is encouraged.

Date: Monday May 16, 2016

Time: 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Location: Boone County Cooperative Extension Service

6028 Camp Ernst Road

Burlington, KY 41005

To Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rabbit-hash-general-store-update-meeting-tickets-24467280294

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End of April Update

End of April Update, Don Clare

This week’s update is going to be a whole lot different than previous ones. As we deal with the red tape items and the brass tacks items of getting started on the restoration project of the General Store, we feel overwhelmed and frustrated with the prerequisites and principles and procedures involved in such an undertaking. But we stand determined to see this project through.

When completed, we think this restoration will serve as a new precedent in the Historic Preservation community locally, state-wide, and even nationally. And here is what makes the difference. It is YOU, our friends, neighbors, supporters, visitors, tourists and those of you who have chosen Rabbit Hash as your preferred tourist destination on weekends, weekdays, and whenever you feel the urge. The Rabbit Hash General Store has always been there to welcome you with open arms and, hopefully, the kind of experience you are looking for.

If it weren’t for you and all your various fund-raising events, organized by you folks, then we would never be able to restore that experience you look forward to each and every time you visit. We cannot thank you all enough for your support!

There have been a lot of questions about the restoration. When? How long?  How much will it take? What else is needed? What is the hold-up? Let’s get on with it! All very legitimate questions and we are diligently working on the answers for you. We have to look at this project as “Rome wasn’t built in a day!” We are taking each baby step as best we can. There are a lot of regulatory agencies whose requirements have to be met. And it will take time.

As we work things out, we want to offer you, all our friends, neighbors and supporters, a special night of fun and camaraderie on the fabulous Belle of Cincinnati, She is coming especially to the Port of Rabbit Hash this coming Sunday for an exclusive cruise and tour of the Boone County area as well as the scenic Indiana counties of Dearborn, Ohio, and Switzerland counties. The Rabbit Hash Historical Society is sponsoring an exclusively designed river cruise, dinner, music and river history entertainment featuring a cash bar, games and fashion centered on the upcoming 142nd Kentucky Derby!

BB Riverboats and the Bernstein family have graciously offered us the Belle of Cincinnati for this special fundraising event and we are inviting all of you to partake in this special opportunity. It is not very often that a major Ohio River Steamboat is offered to an organization like this. The Bernstein family has a very long history of promoting and featuring trips to Rabbit Hash as one of their special yearly events. Now, they have offered this unique river experience, entertainment, and award-winning dinner fare. We cannot thank them enough for their support and generosity.

Please consider enjoying this special trip with us , this Sunday, May 1st. Since the fire, we all have experienced regret, sadness, emotional pain and the processes of grieving in this terrible loss to our community. We want you to think of this special event more as a coming together, healing, cleansing, purging opportunity to let go of the tragedy and move on with the solutions.

Sure, we understand that the cost involved is a sacrifice to a whole lot of us. But we are not concentrating on what we can raise for the project. We just want to cover the expenses of operating the boat, the meal, the crew, and so on and sharing some fun and leisure time with each other. After all, the Store meant so much to so many of us, never mind if you are a local, a tourist, an occasional visitor, or whatever you are. We just want to have this opportunity to get together, enjoy a nice meal and entertainment, enjoy our Boone County and Ohio River history and heritage, and talk about the restoration.

Please contact BB Riverboats to secure you tickets for this special get-together at BBRiverboats .com/rabbit hash. We really want your emotional support for this particular fundraiser!

Sure hope to see you! There will be a very unique musical line-up and silent auction as well!


Don Clare

President, Rabbit Hash Historical Society

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B & B RIVERBOAT KENTUCKY DERBY SUNSET CRUISE TO BENEFIT RABBIT HASH RESTORATION EFFORT

In the wake of the devastating fire that left the iconic Rabbit Hash General Store in ruins on February 13, 2016, B & B Riverboats will be partnering with the Rabbit Hash Historical Society to launch a sunset dinner cruise from the Port Of Rabbit Hash on Sunday, May 1st. Boarding will begin at 5:00, cruise from 6-8 pm and the event will go on until 9 pm. Admission is $55.00, with all proceeds benefitting the restoration of the general store.

The cruise will be Kentucky Derby themed and include a buffet dinner, cash bar, live music, silent auction, “derby races” and a Kentucky Derby hat contest complete with trophies, so be sure to wear your finest derby attire!

We are pleased to announce that live music will be provided on the outer deck by The Knott Brothers, who’s members include Ed Vardiman (of Straw Boss) and Davey Mac (fiddle player for Hank Williams III).

Current Catering’s Chef Jesus Picazo has created a menu sure to tempt the most discernible Kentuckian’s palate. The buffet will include Pimento Cheese on Crackers, Cucumber, Onion and Tomato Salad, Kentucky Burgoo, Ham and Biscuits, Mixed Vegetables, Garlic Cheese Grits, Peach Cobbler and Red Velvet Cake.

The cruise will set sail from and return to Rabbit Hash KY. Parking is limited in town, and arrangements are currently being made for a shuttle from a designated area. Details will be posted as soon as they are available.

The Rabbit Hash Historical Society is a 501(C)3 non profit organization with a limited operating budget. The cost of the restoration of the store has been estimated at $275,000 – $350,000. This area’s concern and generosity, their donations and the benefits that have taken place and are scheduled to take place are overwhelming and humbling. The Historical Society would like to thank B & B Riverboats for the opportunity to host what is sure to be one of the highlights of the Kentucky Derby season!

Tickets are available at: www.bbriverboats.com/rabbithash, or by phone at (800) 261-8586, and will be available in Rabbit Hash on the day of the event.RH Derby Cruise_web

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General Store Benefit at Jane’s Saddlebag

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Flood Mud

Flood Mud

by Don Clare

As we were disassembling the remains of the Rabbit Hash General Store and de-nailing and cleaning up

the various shapes and sizes of the re-usable pieces of wood that survived, a common finding soon

made itself apparent and ‘clear as mud.’ There was evidence of dusty dirt or sticky mud on almost every

piece of wood, depending on the current weather of the day. I thought it would be fun to pick this

finding apart and figure out where all this mud came from, historically speaking.

Ever since those early industrious fellows got together in 1831 to build the very first section of the store

we all knew and loved, it was visited quite frequently by La Belle Riviere (French for ‘the beautiful river’).

The very first visitation and deposit of river to the 1831 store building was on February 18, 1832 when

the Ohio reached a level of 64 feet, 9 ¾ inches (as recorded on that date in Salmon P. Chase’s personal

journal in Cincinnati). When the river reaches between 63 and 64 feet, the water would begin seeping

into the building and covering the floor boards of the (formerly) current general store building, so the 64

foot level in 1832 was at least waist high in the building. This first mud invasion occurred before the

store was even a full year old. Recall that when it was originally built, the structure was built on the

ground, so at 64 feet the water was well into the structure. In our earliest picture of the Rabbit Hash

General Store (taken in 1894 by the premiere historian of that time, Reuben Gold Thwaites, while he

journeyed in a skiff along with a doctor friend, his wife and his young son down the entire 981 mile

length of the Ohio River from Redstone, Pennsylvania to Cairo, Illinois where it entered the Lower

Mississippi) it was still sitting on the ground. Thwaites had actually stopped at Rabbit Hash, posted some

letters in the mail, and took a picture of the building. It looked the same as it did on the day it burned

except that it was sitting at ground level and not up on wooden piers!

Everybody recalls the date 1847, right? That was the date assigned by William H. Nelson for the official

naming of the town. In his booklet “The Buried Treasure: A Rabbit Hash Mystery”, he included “by

request” a piece he had written originally for the Lawrenceburgh Register titled “Rabbit Hash, Kentucky:

The Origin of Its Name.” At that time, Nelson was the editor of both the Lawrenceburgh and the Rising

Sun newspapers. He was also a local school teacher. He married the widow Carlton and lived in the town

of Rabbit Hash, just above the reaches of the Ohio River floods. He attributes the naming to a local

inhabitant by the name of Frank. “He stood somewhat apart, shivering violently, not so much from the

effects of the cold, however, as from the chronic influence on his system of over-indulgence in any and

every kind of alcoholic stimulant that he could buy, beg or borrow.” The day was reported to be

Christmas Day, 1847. “For several days the river had been rising steadily, until now all the houses on the

bank were flooded…” This included the General Store. The flood reportedly crested at 63.7 feet. “It was

a time of considerable hardship and suffering. Snow two feet deep covered the ground, and that

combined with the extreme cold made communication with the outside world extremely uncomfortable

and somewhat hazardous.”

The official recording of Ohio River high waters and flooding actually began in 1858. Before that the

reported levels were somewhat arbitrary but within a reasonable margin of error. According to National

Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service, the official flood stages at

Cincinnati had been 45 feet from 1873 to 1893; 50 feet from 1899 to March 31, 1922; and 52 feet from

April1, 1922 to present. From 1858 until 2014 there were a total of 103 times the Ohio surpassed the 52

foot flood stage. January, February and March have been the most common months for floods and April

not as often. There has been one flood recorded in June.

The flood of January 22, 1862 reached an official level of 57 feet, two and one half inches. So that year

it became threateningly close, but did not get into the building. It would be another 21 years before the

next flooding event and this one was very significant. On February 15, 1883 the river crested at 66 feet,

5 inches, which translates to over 6 feet of water and mud in the building. But it held its ground and

survived that inundation. Three hundred sixty four days later, the flood of February 14th 1884 reached

the level of 71.1 feet, making it the biggest flood of the century and perhaps the region’s original St.

Valentine’s Day massacre. Again, the store survived, but how?

At an unrecorded time in the store’s history, the four 12 inch by 14 inch sill logs were anchored to the

ground with iron rods bolted through the logs to the ground. As the subsequent floods eroded the

ground toward the rear of the store into the creek behind it (viz. 1883 and 1884), large locust posts were

installed to prop up the rear of the building. In the 1894 photo, the front of the store still remains on the

ground, but the rear is supported by these posts, and the sills still anchored to the ground. During the

restoration, an archaeologist from the same Gray and Pape Cultural Resource Company who is serving

as our project manager will be doing some testing to see if we can really tie down the dates of those

structure-saving improvements.

Another 23 years later the next major flood recorded a level of 65.2 feet on January 21, 1907. But once

again, the old girl withstood the ravages and recovered from a new layer of Ohio River mud, which

seeped into and hid in the crevices. Then on March 19, of that same year another high water event

came through the front door registering 62.1 feet. Only six years later, the year 1913 also decided on a

double whammy, two major flooding events just 3 months apart. On January 14, 1913 the waters

peaked at 62.2 feet and before the building was hardly given time to recover, that level was trumped by

the April 1, 1913 crest of 69.9 feet. April Fools! Almost as bad as the 1884 model. More erosion and

more locust post piers needed to support the sagging building, this time even the front porch got props.

In our 1817 photograph of the Reverend Twinkle delivering a sermon at the General Store the locust

posts can be seen under the porch and the February 12, 1918 flood was thankfully kept at bay.

The next flood threat waited until March 21, 1933 to seep into the store, leaving its floors warped and a

muddy mess. You may recall in a previous update article that we found a signed and dated tongue-and-

groove flooring board as we were taking up the floor boards for re-use in the renovation. That floor

board was signed by Vernon Smith and dated Sept. 11, 1933, just 6 months after the 1933 flood. Little

did neither Mr. Charlie Craig nor Vernon Smith know what was to come in January of 1937, or they may

have waited to lay a new floor! They certainly must have been elated to have ‘dodged the bullet’ in 1936

when the river reached 60.6 feet and didn’t ruin their new floor.

The ’37 Flood was the ‘Mother of all Floods’, officially cresting at 79.9 feet, but actually between 81 and

82 feet along our stretch of the river. At the time the American Red Cross declared it the greatest

natural disaster in the history of the United States. There are scores of books and publications

concerning this devastating event if you want to learn more. It is hard to believe that in just six months

(July of 1937); the river was a mere 12 feet deep.

The 1940s witnessed two close calls when the river reached 60 feet in 1940 and 60.8 feet in 1943. But

the river will always come back for the things it left behind previously. The General Store took another

big hit in 1945 at a crest of 69.2 feet, almost rivaling the 1884 inundation. This time, though, the last

vehicular ferry boat (The Mildred) was totally destroyed by the accompanying ice. But again, the old gal

fought back the forces of Mother Nature and with the help of her loyal and caring neighbors carried on

her charged role of social clearing house and centerpiece of the community. Then again in 1948 her

unwelcomed visitor reached 64.8 feet. (By comparison for those of you who remember the 1997 flood,

this was just one tenth of a foot higher!)

The 1950s seemed to give the General Store a well deserved rest from the high floodwaters. Another

close call of 61 feet in March of 1955 did nothing more than threaten. This same scenario repeated in

1962. In 1953 the Secretary of the Army approved the construction of a system and series of higher and

more sophisticated locks and dams to replace the older and obsolete low level dams of the 1910s and

1920s. Mackville (McVille) Lock and Dam Number 38 was completed in 1926 in the Belleview/Mackville

neighborhood. In 1962, after the completion of the new Markland Lock and Dam, it was blown up along

with Dams 35, 36 37 and 39, raising the normal river pool from 16 feet to 26 feet in this particular pool.

This rise brought the Ohio a lot closer to the Rabbit Hash General Store. But the new locks and dams had

nothing to do with flood control. They were built to only improve river navigation by creating a series of

pools (or lakes) all the way from Pittsburgh down to Cairo, Illinois which was the entire 981 mile length

of the Ohio River.

But people were mistakenly under the impression that these new locks and dams would put an end to

flooding around here. So in 1964 the Ohio proved that impression dead wrong when she crested at 66.2

feet, again getting over the counters inside the store. Again neighbors all came to the rescue and moved

goods and supplies up the road a short piece (now Rabbit Hash Hill Road) and the store re-opened in an

empty two room house in a matter of two days (just like they did this past Valentine’s Day, moving the

General Store into the Rabbit Hash barn)!

What was to follow that was a 33 year reprieve from flood water getting into the store building. The

Flood of ’97, as it is now affectionately referred to, struck in early March, 1997 and nearly matched the

1948 crest and missed the 1964 crest by only one and a half feet. The year before, the river tantalized

and intimidated area residents, but called off the invasion at 57.3 feet, just enough to get everyone’s

attention.

This may sound strange or weird, but as we were disassembling the walls and the floors of the building

after the fire, I started collecting this left-behind flood mud into plastic sandwich and storage bags, just

for the heck of it. For me, the mud served as a memory of all the stress, tribulations, inundations, bad

luck and bad karma the poor old gal had to suffer over all these years. Now mixed with the mud was

charred wood and ashes. I figure the mud that was under the tongue and groove flooring put down in

1933 was left from the ’37 Flood and those after that. But the mud I scraped out of the original 4 inch by

12 inch floor joists in the central bay section goes all the way back to 1832, almost 185 years ago! So,

just as people keep the ashes of grandma and grandpa, I thought it only fitting to keep the mud and

ashes of the old gal who meant so very much to me for close to forty years!

Stay tuned for further updates as the restoration begins to take shape…


-Don Clare, President

Rabbit Hash Historical Society

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