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Evansville, IN 47713
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The Levee Project

The city of Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana, lies in the southwestern part of the state on the right bank of the Ohio River 792 miles below Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Flood of '37 - Coast Guard Boats at McCurdy Hotel (Willard Libarary)Due to the impact of the catastrophic flood of 1937 from Cairo, IL to PIttsburgh, PA, which caused considerable property damage in our region, the creation of a levee along the Ohio River bank in Evansville was approved.

This levee system helps protect residents of the City of Evansville and Vanderburgh County from future, devastating floods. (Picture is of Coast Guard vessels at the McCurdy Hotel in January 1937 - source Williard LIbrary.)

Ohio River Levee Historical MarkerThe levee project was part of the general authorization for the Ohio River Basin contained in the Flood Control Act approved August 28, 1937. 

The federal government funded the $55-million project, while the city of Evansville and Vanderburgh County provided all the land.  Work on the project started in 1939.

Local funds are used to maintain the levee system, as per an agreement between federal and local government entities.

The flood protection system pumps rain water from the city/county back into the river during high river conditions, as well as prevents the river from backing into the sewer system.

Levee Map

The Levee Project consists of:

79,183  feet of Earth Levee
8,175  feet of Concrete Wall
1,761  feet of Combined Wall and Highway
3,160  feet of Roadway Levee
20  Pumping Stations
24  Movable Closures
15  Sandbag Closures

The Protective Works consists of 7 sections:

  • Knight & Howell
    • Started in June 1939
    • Completed in 1948
  • Gatewell
    • Started in 1976
    • Completed in 1979
  • Pigeon Creek, Unit 1
    •  Levee
      • Construction started 1964
      • Completed in 1965
    • Pump stations
      • Construction started in 1965
      • Completed 1966
  • Pigeon Creek, Unit 2, Part 1
    • Started in 1974
    • Completed in 1985
  • Pigeon Creek, Unit 2, Part 2
    • Started in 1982
    • Completed in 1984
    • Pump stations
      • Construction started in 1988
      • Completed 1991
  • Pigeon Creek, Unit 2, Part 3
    • Started in 1988
    • Completed 1989
    • Pump stations
      • Started in 1988
      • Completed 1990
  • Pigeon Creek, Unit 2, Part 4
    • Started in 1992
    • Completed 1994

Flood stage at Evansville is 42 ft.  Zero elevation corresponds to 329.18 feet above sea level at the Court Street gauge located at Dress Plaza.

Since 1940, the Ohio River at Evansville has been above flood stage (42 feet) 41 times. From 1950, it has been above 30 feet 138 times.

Some high river stages of record at Evansville:

February 19, 1884 48.8 ft.
February 18, 1883 48.6 ft.
April 5, 1913 48.4 ft.
March 11, 1945 48.2 ft
March 16, 1964 47.7 ft.
March 10, 1997 47.5 ft.

The flood protection system continues to provide security to the citizens of Evansville and Vanderburgh County.  Since its construction, it has proven its value on numerous occasions and stands as a guardian of which they can be proud.