Helen Eells: The Dayton Flood and the Panama Canal

Helen’s Oral History
Chapter 9
The Dayton Flood and the Panama Canal

Published March, 2011

“Well, we were excited! We went in, and The Dayton Flood was a great, big area, with a little, make-believe Main Street of houses. And all of a sudden, after the man told you about the tragedy of this awful flood that came to Dayton, Ohio (I can’t remember what year), a spurt of water came out of a hole, and went down the middle of this little street! And then the man told you about how many people it killed and drowned. And all this tragedy was before you. And you sat there, with your mouth open. And you did enjoy the fact that it was something to look at, for a change, and sit down and see. But you wondered what all the excitement was about. And your family got up when it was over. And they took you out. And again you had all the blinders on because you had to walk a little further up the street. They were going to do two things in one day, which was against the rules! But they had to, because they couldn’t afford to go through that Zone again! And up the street was a showing of the Panama Canal. Which of course was the whole reason for the name of this great exposition. So you see, the exposition was called the Panama Pacific International Exposition. And it was due to the fact that the Panama Canal was finished.

“Well. So up the way we went, and we still tried to look out of the sides of our eyes. And then the family bought the tickets, and they couldn’t see us looking around. And then we went in. And the Panama Canal was really a very interesting thing. They had it all in tiny, little miniatures. And they showed exactly how the thing worked, and the water running in from the Pacific to the Atlantic, or the Atlantic to the Pacific ( I should say, into the locks). And the little boats that went through, and the little things that they call the mules or the donkeys. And we of course thought it was mules and donkeys, instead it’s those little things looking like… oh, the things in the war, you know… Well, anyway. So I was terriblyimpressed with this, because I almost never saw anything that was kind of, you know, a little bit of fun. And so I remembered that. And you know, years later, when I was after fifty, when I went to Europe, I determined to take a ship that went through the Panama Canal, because of the memory I had of that little show. Well, anyway, that was the Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915. And was it ever a wonderful thing!”

Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915

Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915

If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.