Rindge, New Hampshire Tornado
September 13, 1928
WEST RINDGE TORNADO LOSS $100,000
Scores of Buildings Damaged; Valuable Woodland
Ruined And Basket Factory Leveled
Village Scene of Devastation Today; Hundreds
Escape Death or Injury By Narrow Margins;
Orchards Ruined; 40 Telephone and Electric Light
Poles Down; Hugh Trees Uprooted
WEST RINDGE, N. H. Sept. 14--For a period of
20 minutes late yesterday afternoon this Rindge
village was the center of a tornado, small in
its capacity for covering territory but most
intense in its destructive power.
Standing out clearly this morning as the one
bright color in the dark picture that the
community is facing is the fact that not a life
was lost and not a person was injured as a
result of the worst storm that this section has
ever seen. Nor had there been reported up to
noon today any loss or injury to livestock.
Full extent of property loss cannot yet be
estimated with any accuracy, nor can there yet
be full realization of it, but the common
estimate of nearly $100,000 can hardly be too
The storm had all the appearances and qualities
of those tornadoes which now and then strike
this section of the country. It acted very much
like the one which passed over Fitchburg on July
17, 1924, tearing roofs from buildings, moving
some from their foundations, taking up
loosely-built structures only to drop them in a
tangled heap. Great trees of close to three feet
in diameter close to the ground were torn from
their century-old beds and hurled to the ground.
Entire fruit orchards are lying low, some of the
trees being merely uprooted while others have
been torn limb from limb.
The town’s lighting and telephone systems are a
tangled mass of pole and wire wreckage, over
which work of restoration has been going on with
the greatest energy since the storm wore itself
out just before dark yesterday. And when
darkness came, it was dark, for the street
lights and the house lights that required wire
service were useless.
Yesterday was in a way a storm-breeder. The wind
had been moving lazily from the southwest since
mid forenoon, and the temperature and the
humidity mounted together.
Thermometers under a dull sun were reaching
close to 80 degrees by mid-afternoon. Just
before 4 o’clock dense black clouds began to
back up in the direction of Monadnock, the
mountain peak which is not only a thing of
beauty for Rindge, but a breeder of disturbing
electric storms. Rapidly the sky became obscured
with clouds. Thunder rolled continuously, and
the lightning played incessantly, as a prelude
to the terrible winds that began to blow. To
observers it seemed that there was a great wind
current from the southeast backing up against
the winds that were moving in a northeasterly
At any rate, spiral movements were visible, and
trees began to flop over as if by magic. Holes
developed instantly in roofs of big and small
barns. The whole glass front in the post office
building was pushed in as by a giant’s hand.
Trees, some easily and some harshly, fell across
the streets of the village. A small building of
the basket shop plant close to the post office
was crumpled into a pile of boards and beams.
The tremendous vacuum created by the tornado did
its most perfect work on the long ell of the
home, when it removed cleanly one-half and left
the other intact. The operation of this vacuum
principle was evident in a score of places,
through holes, some big and some small, which
appeared in roofs of houses and barns.
The storm was fickle in it choices too. Here
would be a house with its chimney down and
partly through the roof, while close by would be
a home that to all appearances had escaped
So far as it was possible to observe this
morning the tornado began its work of
destruction in West Rindge near the common.
There is no destruction visible along the
highway to the Jaffrey villages beyond that
point although toward the Fitzwilliam side there
has been heavy damage to fine stands of pine and
hard woods. The wild winds left Rindge Center
quite well alone although on the town
[illegible] beyond the center village are signs
of the storm’s might. From reports that are
constantly coming in it is certain that the
storm’s fringes were [illegible] tagged in shape
and widely extended. But the heart of the
destruction lies, it seems sure, in a space not
over a mile wide and two miles long, with the
area of greatest intensity being between Peol
pond and Exile Inn farm, on the road to the
The path of the tornado is quite clearly marked
along the surface of Cheshire County in New
From the point where it struck Rindge, between
the center and West village it moved in a direct
line from southeast to northwest across the
county. It skipped Jaffrey’s villages, but hit
that town close to Fitzwilliam in the Stone
brook region, and extended out to Fullam hill in
Fitzwilliam, where it took the Perry barn.
Fitchburg Sentinel, Fitchburg, MA 14 Sept
Transcribed by Helen
Coughlin. Thank you, Helen!
The damage was distributed as follows.... H. O.
[illegible], general store,
$1000; Taylor basket factory; John Crosby house, barn and ice house, $3000;
Walter O. Hastings, grove [?] and buildings, $12,500; L. T. Warbesher [?], trees
and buildings [illegible]; Mrs. Mabel Powers, house [illegible];
Jewell [illegible]; S. Z. Cleaves [illegible];
Ray Chesley [illegible];....R. P.
S. Prescott, $4000; [illegible] Blake house [illegible];
[illegible]; Mrs. Louis Murphy, house and shed [illegible];
Mrs. Mariana Emery, house [illegible];
Frank D. Converse, pine lot, orchard and buildings $8500;
Harlan A. Stearns [illegible]..... [illegible]
Morgan, $500; Parley [?]
farm buildings, $3000; Warren F. Kimball, pine lot and cottages, $10,000.
As the tornado swept into West Rindge it ripped off the slates, toppled the
chimneys and broke the windows at the home of Mrs. Robinson Converse and the
Frank D. Converse farm. At the latter place it leveled a 10-cord woodlot
and an orchard.
At the Harlan Stearns farm the storm leveled the orchard and damaged the
house and barn. It reached out and grazed the 15-acre Sargent woodlot while it
swept its mad way to the center ripping at the homes of
Mrs. Louis Murphy, Mrs.
Mariana Emory and the old Blake house, one of the historic West Rindge houses.
D. P. S. Prescott owns the two houses next to the Blake house. They
first received the usual damage to chimneys and roof but the second seemed to be
the specter [illegible] of the storm. One half the roof of the long
[illegible] at the rear of the structure was sliced cleanly off exposing
bedrooms and store rooms in the house. A baby's crib sailed around the
yard for some minutes before it blew to pieces.
The shingles came off the front roof and the deluge of rain soon ruined the
plaster in the upper rooms. The front door lock blew out of its frame and
landed in the kitchen. The barn in the rear of the house collapsed.
The Prescott place presents the scene of greatest damaged and destruction
Although no one was killed or seriously injured, many had narrow escapes....a
large wooden canopy suspended from the building by wire cables crashed to earth
when the building collapsed, pinning Mrs. Abbie Taylor beneath it. She
received slight injuries to her right shoulder.
Marcus M. Cleaves and his wife and
Mrs. Taylor were at work in the Taylor
shop when the storm hit. Mr. Cleaves and the two women rushed to the door
in time to see trees falling .... Suddenly the building creaked and groaned in
the high wind and collapsed as the three started to run.
Mr. Cleaves aided
Mrs. Taylor to get from underneath the wreckage and aided her across the street
to his home. Mrs. Cleaves was just ahead of them and was struck by a
flying limb but not seriously hurt.
The intense vacuum caused by the tornado as it flattened the building smashed
the large plate glass windows of a general store adjacent. A large hole
was also torn in the store roof.
The Oren F. Sawtell [?] home across the street from
Prescott's took the brunt
of the its damage on one side of the barn, which was ripped open. The
house also was damaged. An orchard of 35 trees was raised.
The beautiful Mary Lee Ware estate proper
was not damaged but the homes of the workers on the estate were damaged by
falling trees. William S.
Cleaves, manager of the estate, drove into the yard of his house just before the
storm. He ran into the house closing windows when the storm hit. He
rushed out [illegible] his truck just in time to save it from a falling pine.
The barn of S. Z. Cleaves has a hole in the roof 6 feet in diameter and
another n the wall near the foundation about a foot in diameter. It is
believed lightning was responsible although there was no fire.
Although the tornado left suffering and frightened residents and flattened
buildings, in its wake, perhaps the worst hit was Waldo O. Hastings. Mr.
Hastings lives just north of the village and owns a large nine lot on the shores
of Pool pond....
Miss Liberty Jewell, aged 88, mother of
Mrs. Henry W. Holman of Fitchburg,
was alone in her house which faces the West Rindge common when the storm broke. Chimnies [sic] toppled, the roof was ripped open and windows crashed in.
Mrs. Jewell was not injured.
Houses facing the common which were damaged are owned by
[illegible], and Mrs. Mabel Powers.
John Crosby's home on the shore of Pool pond was badly damaged. The
roof shed most of its shingles.... It blew down the barn, hen coop and ice
Fitchburg Sentinel, Fitchburg, MA 14 Sept 1928
At the home of Mrs. J. Erwin Powers, facing the common, near
home, a swarm of bees has become established on the roof, and judging from
attempts to rescue them, they will stay there.
The chimney crashed during the height of the storm and when the sun came out
this morning it was found that the swarm of bees had a hive in it. Honey
bees and brick were strewn all over the roof.
Another freak of the storm occurred at the Powers house. Mrs. Powers
had left the house just before the storm. The plazza rail was decorated
with a basket of fern, two potted plants and a large glass vase. When she
returned after the storm she found a tree leveled not six feet from the house,
the piazza floor littered with debris and the piazza rail untouched and still
bearing its vase potted plants and fern basket.
The Monticello barn on the Rindge center road was moved several inches on its
foundation, but aside from broken windows it was undamaged.
On the Perley pond road, which leads to the Arthur H. Lowe summer estate, a
virgin pine, four feet thick at the butt, lay across the highway. Special
saws must be imported before it can be moved. Farther on an ash tree, two
feet thick, was twisted off four feet from the ground and the upper part of the
trunk slivered in to small slivers.
A though investigation yesterday revealed that Warren E. Kimball was the
heaviest loser. His 100-acre pinegrove, with its seven cottages, was
wrecked, the heavy trunks of the fallen trees having crushed the summer houses.
The road to this place is still blocked by the fallen timber, but those who have
made the journey by foot proclaim it the scene of the greatest destruction.
On Pool pond a boat owned by Walter Hastings was torn loose from its
moorings. A thorough search has been made for it, but as yet it has not
In Rindge proper a corner of the roof of Mrs. Lillian Knott's home was torn
Residents of the town who were here during the entire storm tell of a
darkness so dense that it obscured objects less than 100 feet away, of a sighing
wind that whipped to a tremendous velocity and with a roar like that of a fast
train rushed upon the town, twisted and wracked it in its grip for a few moments
and then passed before a curtain of driving rain and hail. "T' awful
noise" they say and suppress an involuntary shudder when they tell of their
Many women were along with young children during the storm. Many
motorists were caught on the highways and penned in by falling trees and many
farmers were surprised at work in their fields.
Today these people are trying to state a come back after one of the severest
blows in the history of the town. Today they are grim and saddened as they
see the wreck of their homes and orchards, but, in spite of all of this,
one is able to catch an under current of thankfulness that no one was killed or
seriously hurt, and that, in the face of tremendous odds, their numbers were not
depleted by so much as one.
Fitchburg Sentinel, Fitchburg, MA 15 Sept 1928
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