Denver, CO Overland Park Race Track Tornado Jun 1901


Denver, June 30. --- A miniature tornado wrecked the frail betting shed at Overland park race track at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon, lifting it in the air, twisting and sending it crashing down upon the 150 people below. Twenty-eight persons were injured, nineteen of them seriously, but so far as was known last night, none fatally. Many suffered broken arms or legs. Not a great crowd was inside at the time. Many had fled from it only a moment before, warned that the structure was not safe.
The little tornado was apparently entirely local to the race track. Two or three whirling clouds of dust swept over the grounds before the accident, one threatening the grand stand, but dissipating just as it seemed about to strike. A 3 o'clock the whirlwind formed in the middle of the paddock and gathered an immense cloud of dust on the golf links. Moving slowly at first, as it reached the tree near the seventh hole of the links it took a circling motion, forming a funnel, and bore toward the stands. Ahead of this a tremendous gust swept through the grand stand, bearing immense quantities of sand and dust. Hats were lifted straight up, tossed about and lost in the confusion. The whirling funnel of dust struck the frail shed erected for a betting stand. There was a roar and crash of falling timbers as the whirlwind tore the building loose, twisted it in its grasp and dashed it down upon those beneath. The wreck was hidden in a huge cloud of dust and no one saw the wreck of the betting shed. An instant later the whirlwind was gone, a gust whisked the sand away and the still, sultry air encompassed stands and ring. A moment later the north end of the shed which was still standing, came crashing down, but not until many had escaped by that opening.
The excited shouts and cries of pain from the people struggling to escape from the wreck set the whole park in an uproar. Bleeding men swarmed out of the opening in the wreck.

The pavilion was a very frail structure, built simply for a betting ring. At first it had been intended to cover it only with canvas, but it was thought better to make it entirely of wood. It was a temporary structure intended to last only during the present racing season and be resonstructed[sic] before next year. It was about seventy-five feet long by twenty-five wide, it was not built strong, nor were the timbers in it generally heavy.
There was a crowd stationed along the fence, who were driven away by the dust. Many of these sought shelter in the pavilion. When the heavier wind came up, with its accompanying and blinding clouds of dust, a cry arose to get out of the pavilion, that it was unsafe.

Many took advantage of the warning, running out with their eyes closed.
Hardly had the warning been given, however, when the wind picked up the stand, moved it a few feet, cracked its timbers and tore them apart, and then dropped the whole affair, a wreck.

The following is a partial list of those most seriously injured:
J. W. FLEMING, druggist; former county commissioner; left leg fractured; taken home. Was resting easily last night and is not in danger.
JOHN E. FIELD, deputy state engineer; right leg broken in three places. Resting easily.
BERT HOLLINGSWORTH, badly hurt and scalp wound. Doing well at St. Luke's.
D. WARD BAKER, scalp wound. Is at St. Joseph's hospital, where he is getting along well.
J. M. HOUGHTON, mining broker; head cut. Taken home.
THOMAS LEONARD, arm and scalp cut and was taken home. Not seriously injured.
WASHINGTON ALDRIDGE, manufacturer's agent; head cut and bruised.
R. W. SPEER, president Board of Public Works; slight scalp wound and hand cut. Is at home.
FRED WORPEL, scalp wound. Is doing well at St. Joseph's hospital.
C. M. DWYER, manager of E. & C. cellars; ankle severely sprained. Is at his home.
FRANCIS BOUHEY, cook; severe scalp wound and back hurt. Resting well at St. Joseph's.
W. H. EHRICH, bookkeeper; scalp wound. Taken to St. Joseph's.
FRED HANSCOME, Inter Ocean hotel; scalp wound. Resting well at St. Joseph's.
FRED MILLER, clerk; chest bruised. Treated at police surgeon's office and went home. Not badly hurt.
R. C. CUNNINGHAM, undertaker; arm broken. Taken home.
FRANCIS DU PLANC, scalp wound. Is at home.
ALFRED A EEARTHSTONE, leg broken. Resting well at St. Joseph's.
WILLIAM DAGGS, Portland, Oregon. Pullman porter, leg broken.
GEORGE BUCHANAN, arm broken. Dressed by his father and taken home.
WILLIAM C. POWERS, face cut and left hand injured. At his home.
FRANK LEONARD, knee strained and body wrenched. Is at home.

Summit County Journal Colorado 1901-07-06