Views of the 1965 flood

While we wait for the river to rise again, here are some great flood photos from 1965. That flood still holds the record for the highest St. Croix River crest. Use the full-screen button to see more detail.

Do you have memories of the ’65 or ’69 floods? Share them in the comments section below.


Thanks to Brent Peterson and the Washington County Historical Society for these photos.

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16 Responses to Views of the 1965 flood

  1. john velin says:

    In 1965 a bunch of White Bear Lake athletes spent a day and a half sandbagging by the Hooley store . It was cold and wet but we were proud to help.

    • Gary Noren says:

      Yeah, another White Bear athlete/sandbagger from 1965 checking in. I too remember cold and wet … and the wonderful hospitality from all of the restaurants in downtown Stillwater. They fed us and wouldn’t accept any money from volunteers like John V and me.

  2. Willie Madline says:

    I remember this very well. I was 9 years old. Every Saturday morning I would head to the Commander Elevator with my dad and a truck load of grain to be ground into cow feed. I ran around the dikes and levees and had a great time exploring.

  3. Paul w says:

    I came from Beartown to help as well. 10 years old and I will never forget that day!

  4. Jeff Gramenz says:

    I was a senior at Stillwater High School that year, and spent the best part of the week never leaving the downtown area. I remember sleeping on a cot in the armory at least one night. In the picture of the teenagers on top of the dike, I may be the person in the white jeans, I can’t get a good enough enlargement to tell.

  5. Patty Thomsen says:

    I was 10 years old, but I remember going downtown ,to take a look. The pictures are amazing!

  6. Cindy LaCosse says:

    I was only 6 years old but do recall going down to try and help sandbag. These pictures are truly amazing!

  7. Rock Bliss says:

    My family had to evacuate our home on The Point in Bayport and moved into a house my dad owned in Stillwater across the street from the library (it is now the ArtReach offices and gallery.)
    I would walk downtown to help out with the sand bags. I remember the Red Cross sandwiches were very tasty after working hard.

    Our golden retriever went missing for a few days from our “flood home” until Dad found her at the armory about 4 blocks away where the National Guard had adopted her as their mascot.

  8. Michael says:

    1965 – 5th grade, days off of school filling sandbags, and shoveling just west of the rising water and east of, or maybe on top of water street. Gray sky, overcast drizzle, no knowledge of being cold and dirty until reminded by Mom.

  9. Kathy Harvieux says:

    Ninth grade. Dad dropped me off at the Tozer pool for synchronized swimming practice (remember Aquateens?) before he went to work. Hours to wait until the pool opened so I went to see the mess downtown. Sandbags covering the manhole covers to keep them weighted down, but they were leaking water onto the street. I think they had pumps set up to try to keep up with the water backing up out of them. It was a very damp, cold, shivery misery. I don’t think my shoes dried out for a week. An old guy lectured us about how to properly fill the sand bags … “Don’t fill them too much. There has to be some empty bag to interlock under the next bag laid. That way the wall is strong enough so that the water doesn’t break through the whole thing.” Whenever I see news stories of floods anywhere with sandbags strewn in haphazard piles and water leaking everywhere I think of him.

  10. Barbara Fiehn says:

    I remember driving “home” to my parent’s house on north Arcola trail. The water was just over the low spot north of Wolf’s marine. I had to stop at the boom site overlook to look at the river.

    Our river property was flooded. Looking at the high water mark on the summer screen porch after the water went down was amazing. The water had to have been at least 15 feet above normal for that part of the river. Somewhere I still have pictures.

  11. Jack Thueson says:

    I have good memories of working on the dike back then. One thing that amazed me about was the “around the clock” work effort that led up to the completion of the dike. From our house on North Third Street we could hear the engine of the truck and dozers moving the sand all night long, and see the glow from the spotlights that were pointed at the dike. Once the dike was completed, access to downtown was limited to store owners and merchants, with the National Guard patrolling the area. I rode down to Hooley’s offices with my dad the weekend of the crest. Downtown was completely deserted. Very surreal.

  12. Brenda Hauer-Johnson says:

    These are great pics.
    With the passing of my grandparents I obtains pics of their home during the 1965 flood and build of the dike. They lived just north of the old bridge in Inver Grove Height just behind what is now Dana Marine. My grandpa and his brother built a row just before where the dike is currently: his home, my parents home, my great uncles home and another home which they rented. They are now torn down awaiting a city park. Slowly all those homes will gone for the city park.

  13. sue ames-lillie says:

    Thanks so much, Matt, for doing this. I grew up in Stillwater, and worked on the “Teenagers Dike” in 1965….still have the metal coin they made to commemorate the dike. In fact, I went to school with your dad. I really enjoy your posts and pictures. I was somewhat surprised by the pictures from 1965…..I had never seen them before, and realized when seeing them, that even tho I worked on the dike, I never saw the “big picture” from a distance (top of the Main St. steps). Thanks again!

    • sue ames-lillie says:

      Sorry, I know this has nothing to do with the flood or the flood of ’65, but I have been away from Stillwater for years. Does anyone know who I should contact about the class reunion for the class of 1966?

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