MOUNT VERNON -- The day dawned cold and rainy on Sunday, March 21, 1913. The rain was heavy, and it came as winter snows had melted and left Ohio rivers full.
After a full 30 hours of heavy rain, Knox County locals were starting to chatter about the possibility of bad flooding.
That's when the rain got heavier, turning into a deluge. Before it was done, the Great Flood of 1913 — the worst natural disaster to ever hit the state — would destroy tens of thousands of homes, barns, and livestock. And the human death count would be almost 500 people in Ohio, and many more in adjacent states equally devastated.
The hamlet of Zuck in Butler Township, near Knox County's eastern border with Coshocton County, was essentially removed from the map in all but name by the flood. The town's residents, mostly farmers or people who worked in larger nearby towns, knew that by Tuesday morning, March 23, their community was in trouble.
No specific rainfall measurements were made in Zuck, but estimates for the region ranged from six to 12 inches of rain in a four-day period.
Several of the townspeople grabbed a few valuables and essentials and crossed Owl Creek by the bridge on Staats Road, so they could ascend the hills overlooking the far side of the river.
According to Anton Hepler in the February 2008 issue of the “Looking Glass,” published by the Mount Vernon News, the last person to leave town was Marion Carpenter, owner of the General Store, one of the few businesses left in Zuck since the post office closed in 1903 from slow activity.
As Carpenter and his family arrived on the hills around the middle of the afternoon that day, flood waters began to overrun the town. By sunset, the water was running five feet deep down Zuck Road, and buildings were beginning to give way. Carpenter's house, barn, and outbuildings collapsed in the flood, and though his general store withstood the waters, $7,000 in goods were destroyed, worth over $178,000 in today's currency.
The homes of the Farquhar, Mann, and Parker families fell, too, along with outbuildings. Large numbers of livestock drowned.
As the waters receded toward the end of the week, the townspeople assembled to inspect the situation. The only other major building that had survived the flood along with the general store was the sturdy old flour mill. Otherwise, only foundations and collapsing walls remained.
During a town meeting Friday, March 28, everyone decided that the loss was total, and it would be too risky to rebuild in such a low-lying spot. Zuck was abandoned for good.
Today nothing obvious remains to mark the site of the small town, just west of the intersection of Zuck Road and Staats Road. Part of the riverfront is private campgrounds, though there is a public canoe access point. A newer bridge now crosses at the same spot where townspeople fled up to the hills on the south side of what is now known as the Kokosing River.
Along Zuck Road, dense weeds and brush has overgrown any old foundation stones that might remain, the only sign that there was ever a town there at all.