Letter from Moroni W. Pratt to the Bear Lake Democrat, Feb. 1883
Feb 20, 1883
Among the Floods.
I visited Cincinnati on the 16th and 17th inst. Had a look at the raging billows the tumbled-down houses, floating barns, out-houses and various wreckages floating around and lodged in every shape imaginable. The submerged portion covers an area of 10 square miles in and near Cincinnati. It has the appearance of a demolished fort with the gay steamers that defy the mighty waters, representing a victorious army; many of them moored along side of buildings that are partly under water; some of the tugs pushing coal flats up the river; some taking rubbish out in the channel and some running gaily up or down the river seeming to enjoy the rise of water and their enlarged play ground as a holiday, being loosed from the old channel and let out into new space. The streets and yards are alive with boats and people of all classes, kinds and color. Some as pleasure, some bent on plunder, some removing goods and people to higher ground, some laden with food for those that were imprisoned in the upper stories of the houses that were partly under water. The City passed an ordinance regulating the price of boats per hour, and to lead off speculation.
We were taken free to the bridge spanning the Ohio River from Cincinnati to Covington, Kentucky. From the bridge we had a splendid view of Cincinnati, Covington and New Port, though there was a rise of 66 feet. The steam boats could pass under the mammoth suspension bridge by lowering the upper part of their smoke stacks. The bridge itself is a grand sight, displaying a masterpiece of modern engineering. We crossed to Covington, Kentucky, took a run through some of the principle streets; all seemed bustle and excitement. We then crossed Licking River to New Port, Kentucky; took a boat at the end of the bridge some eight squares by Madson street. The windows of the upper stories were crowded with faces of various kinds of humanity. We saw some hauling up baskets of pails with food, water, beer, milk and some bedding or clothing, all seemed excitement and confusion.
We passed through New Port and over the bridge that spans the Ohio from New Port to Cincinnati. It would be useless for me to try to estimate the loss or the number of houses under water, of the number of people out of employment and homeless. A great many towns and villages up and down the river and entirely under water and many more partly under. We visited the early breakfast stone works they were just at the waters edge but their work men partook of the excitement and stopped work, though the firm offered to keep them employed. There are a great many failures, and it seems that the panic spoken of by the prophets is near—how near we cannot tell; there are more dissatisfied people in the world at present than there would be if God was not withdrawing his spirit from the wicked, nearly every one we meet is grumbling at something, and no one can tell where it will end. Men’s hearts are failing them for fear, but they utterly refuse the light of truth that would give them a sure deliverance; they all seem to be held by the attraction of the vortex of sin through which the world is being drawn surely down the hill. This little village in which I am staying at present is beautiful for location and is a very pretty town of 800 or 900 inhabitants, and judging from the outside appearance is it as free from sin as any in this county. It has no railroad and but few saloons, and only four drug stores and seven churches, yet it contains sixty five old maids over 30 years old and nearly a hundred between 20 and 30 and it is stated there is not one young man over 21 that has not had a bad disorder, and but very few men of any age, married or not married, that are virtuous. If such be the case in a quiet country village, what is the sin and filth in the large cities.
Let us draw the curtain: one only has to look in the faces of youth to tell the story of sin that leads to disease. May the children of Zion escape!
Is the prayer of
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Feb. 20, 1883, 7]
[Bear Lake Democrat, Mar. 10, 1883, No. 14]
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Apr. 2006]