On January 21, 1937, the worst flood ever recorded in the Ohio Valley Region breached the Lawrenceburg Levee at the west end of the B&O Railroad.
The winter snow fall pack of 13.5 inches three weeks prior combined with the heavy rains of early January caused the river level to rise to 82.6 feet, almost 11 feet higher than the flood of 1913. More than 300 men worked to try and shore up the levee.
Despite their efforts, the destruction was massive. 365 houses were totally swept away; 300 houses were moved from their foundations; 150 homes suffered damage; and 1 fatality was recorded.
A tent city of 220 units, housing approximately 1000 homeless residents, was constructed on vacant land near Ridge Avenue just outside the Greendale Town limits. Residents far and wide who lived on higher ground opened their homes to complete strangers.
As soon as the flood waters receded, work began to repair the damaged levee.
Planning to rebuild the levee began in September of 1937 and featured a system of pumps and relief wells.
Federal funding was applied for in 1937 and in June of 1939, $900,000 of federal funding was approved.
Construction started in July, 1940 and was completed in October, 1943 under the direction of the Lawrenceburg Flood Control District, predecessor of today’s Lawrenceburg Conservancy District.
Along the way, three men lost their lives; ten houses were moved; several houses and barns were demolished to accommodate the new levee; the fairgrounds and the old city cemetery were moved; Tanners Creek was realigned to provide protection for Seagram's Distillery; and nearly two and a half million cubic yards of earth were moved.
The reconstructed levee was completed in 1940 at a cost of $2 million dollars. The levee protects downtown Lawrenceburg and a 500-acre expanse of land alongside US 50 in Greendale.
An addition to the levee was added in 2000 at a cost of $3.6 million dollars. The additional levee transformed the Central Railroad Embankment alongside US 50 in Greendale into commercially developable land.
The current day levee has become a point of interest in Lawrenceburg and is home to five miles of paved walking/biking trails, veteran and civil service monuments, a bell clock, and more.