This page last updated 05/16/10

1931 Floods Museum at Wenyou Tai

Gaoyou Floods Museum

The Gaoyou Floods Museum
S. Harnsberger photo

Click for Flood Museum Slideshow

In August 1931, a combination of heavy summer rains, and a category-5 typhoon, caused Gaoyou Lake and the Grand Canal to break through their dikes at Gaoyou and flood the city and tens of thousands of square miles of Jiangsu Province. In the floods and the famine that followed as many as 3.7 million Chinese lost their lives.

A Southern Presbyterian missionary, Thomas “Lyt” Harnsberger, joined forces with Chinese General Wang to rebuild the dikes. It was an heroic effort by all involved. There wasn’t any machinery available at all, so all the labor involved with the rebuilding had to be done by hand.

Coincidentally, American aviation heroes Charles and Anna Lindbergh arrived in Nanjing after exploring the polar route to China. They eagerly pitched in and provided aerial photographs of the destruction so that authorities could determine the scale of the floods.

Lyt Harnsberger’s grandson Steve Harnsberger was the driving force behind the creation of a museum dedicated to the people that lost their lives in the great flood, and the international team that rebuilt the dikes so well that they still stand today. The museum is located on the grounds of Wenyou Tai on the left side of the courtyard as you walk through the main gate. The museum contains many of the Lindbergh’s pictures, as well as a number of other exhibits documenting the flood.

To read the full story of the floods, go to 1931 Floods section of this site.

Copyright 2009 - Charles Day