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Champion Coated Paper Company. Industrial Life Photograph Collection.
Baker Library, Harvard Business School. (used with permission)

The Champion Coated Paper Company

Unfortunately, the 1901 fire was not to be the only disastrous setback for the Company. A flood and fire destroyed the plant again in 1913.

In late March 1913, about ten inches of rain fell in the region within three days. Within 48 hours, the Great Miami River in Hamilton rose from 4.8 feet to an all-time high of 34.6 feet.

The full force of the flood hit March 25 1913, when the river overflowed its banks in a path three miles wide. That day three Hamilton bridges (Black Street, High-Main and the railroad) were swept away. The fourth, the Columbia, toppled into the river the next day.

With the water level topping 15 feet at the paper mill on North B Street, a fire erupted on March 26, destroying everything above the water line. Later, the Republican-News said "the greatest sufferer in the Miami Valley from the March flood was the Champion Coated Paper Company of Hamilton."

Champion's loss was reported as $1.7 million. At that time it was Hamilton's worst fire, surpassing the financial cost of the 1901 fire in the same plant.

Peter’s youngest son, Logan, had started working at the Hamilton mill as a roll boy in 1902 at age 18. Logan Thomson was assistant production manager when the flood struck Hamilton March 25, 1913. He was credited for saving the lives of the family of Colonel J. C. Hooven, who were marooned in their residence as the river rose. According to a 1913 account, "The home was soon surrounded by water and egress was impossible. Neighbors soon discovered the family's predicament and just about this time," the report said, "Logan G. Thomson came upon the scene. Mr. Thomson is an unusually good swimmer. He carried a line to the Hooven home and by careful work, the rescue of the members of the family was accomplished."

The flood claimed more than 200 lives in Hamilton, plus at least another 85 people who died later of complications associated with the flood. More than 10,000 people in the city of about 35,000 were homeless. About 2,300 buildings were destroyed, including 300 that washed away in the current.