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1931 Floods Museum at Wenyou Tai
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