The 1927 Flood

About This Photo Collection

In the days after the 1927 flood, the federal government commissioned a flyover of the Winooski and White Rivers (F. E. Hopkins, 1927). Flood damage in Vermont was documented with  ninety oblique aerial photographs, portraying destroyed and damaged bridges, railroad infrastructure, homes, buildings, and cropland. These photos are now archived at Special Collections, in Bailey Howe Library, at the University of Vermont. Two copies exist, one in the Dale Family Papers and the other in the Herbert Hoover Collection . These two photo sets are duplicates, while the Dale Family Papers are of better quality.  In addition to the aerial photographs, much of the destruction was recorded through photography taken by people on the ground. Flood photos of this kind can be found by following the link at the right marked “1927 flood photos”.

This collection was scanned and uploaded to the Landscape Change Website at a resolution of 600-dpi. The photos were reshot in April 2004 as part of an interdepartmental collaboration at the University of Vermont, involving The Landscape Change Program, The P.L.A.C.E Program, and the Environmental Studies Program. Re-photographing oblique aerial photos was quite a technical challenge in reproducing camera angles and altitude. This was done by marking topographic marks with identifiable features from the corners of each of the aerial photos. These marks were used in making paper trapezoids of the spatial extent of the photo area to help determine the angle that the photo was taken at, as well as the altitude of the original flightline. The angle at which the trapezoid looks like the rectangle of the camera window is the angle the photo was taken at. With this, our pilot, Professor Ian Worley of UVM, was able to reproduce the original flightline, and our photographer, Elizabeth Stanley Mann, a geology student at UVM, was able to get good matching photos for each of the originals.

Special thanks go out to Chris Burns of Special Collections at UVM, Walter Poleman (P.L.AC.E. Program), Ian Worley (UVM ENVS Program), Elizabeth Stanley Mann, and Paul Bierman (UVM Geology Dept.) for making this project happen.

F. E. Hopkins, memo, 15 November 1927, Flood Relief Situation from the point of
view of military authorities, 1-I/447, Hoover Papers, Hoover Presidential

The Flood of 1927 <> National
Weather Service, Burlington, VT. October 1, 2002.

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