Stanwood, IA Tornado, May 1898

From Stanwood. It was nearly 3:30 when the storm was seen here. The air was murky and many had noted the conditions were favorable for a tornado, when all of a sudden there was seen a funnel. shaped cloud and the roar of the monster could be distinctly heard. All fears were allayed when it was seen that the storm was moving away, but grave fears were entertained that many lives would be lost. People on horses and in buggies started on the route of the storm, but they failed to hear of any casualties. Fences, trees and buildings were blown down at many places. The farm of James Davidson was damaged very heavily, his barns and sheds being destroyed. Hail fell in many places, but little damage was done by it. When the storm started it appeared that two clouds united. At Gordon Carl’s farm it twisted a new steel windmill tower into knots; the summer kitchen was blown from the house and scattered through the fields, and the farm implements were twisted into all kinds of shapes. It soared across the road to the next farm house and uprooted several trees about the grove. Then it went along the telephone line to Elwin Sayer’s, where the C. & N. W. section men had taken shelter in the barn from the hail that accompanied the storm. Mrs. Sayer called them to the cellar and they had only reached there when the barn was all torn to pieces and the boards sent them crashing around the house as if they had been shot out of a cannon. One of the men got a gash cut in his head in the cellar, but not serious. A team of horses was left on the barn floor unharmed. Next in its path was Mr. Kane’s farm where it scattered the outhouses and took the chimney off the house and destroyed a valuable horse for Mr. Kane. It passed Mr. Wood’s place without doing much harm and then crossed the railroad track and took Al Miller’s sheds, 20x100 feet, entirely away, and a mile east of there took eighty head of cattle and carried them over fences a mile and left them apparently unhurt.

Magnificent but Awful The storm as viewed from this town was a magnificent but awful sight, as it first appeared in the west in the direction of Stanwood, it seemed high up in the air hanging funnel shaped toward the earth, swinging and whirling in its course. Occasionally the bottom of the funnel would appear to swoop down to the earth and again rise. As it came toward higher lands this side of the Wapsie, it seemed to come nearer the earth and instead of there appearing to be any clear air below it, it lowered and the black funnel appeared to pierce the earth. The roar of the cyclone could be heard like a hundred railroad trains coming when many miles distant. The Welch house is about 6 rods south of this school house which shows the width of the black whirlwind as an investigation shows that property a few rods north and south from those buildings was unharmed. As it passed by and onward in its course, it seemed to lower and as it was disappearing in the east looked like a big, black ugly cloud and nothing like the swinging funnel which had approached from the west. No rain or hail accompanied the storm. The intense heat preceding its coming gave many a partial warning and several were heard to remark that it was cyclone weather and when the alarm of its approach was given the school was notified and everybody arranged for place of safety.

Clinton Daily Herald, Clinton, IA 19 May 1898


The dead as far as reported are: .... At Stanwood, Iowa: Michael Maloney, Luke Maloney..

Manitoba Morning Free Press, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 20 May 1898