St. Cloud & Sauk Rapids, MN Tornado, Apr 1886



St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids Visited by a Whirl Wind – The Loss of life Appalling – Great Confusion and Excitement Render Particulars Meagre [sic] – Help Sent From St. Paul.

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 15. -- St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids were swept by a terrible destructive cyclone about 5:30 yesterday afternoon. The first knowledge of the disaster was contained in the following telegram sent to Mayor AMES, of Minneapolis from St. Cloud, asking for help:
“To Mayor AMES Minneapolis: A destructive cyclone passed over St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids late this afternoon. There has been terrible destruction here. Please send up all the assistance you can immediately by special train. Send physicians and surgeons.”

Telegrams to the following effect were received from Sauk Rapids:
“To Mayor AMES, Minneapolis: Can you send a special train with physicians to this city? A cyclone passed over the city this afternoon. A great many are believed to have been killed, but the number is not yet known.”

Immediately, upon the recept [sic] of these messages, preparations were made to respond to the call for help. A train for St. Cloud left at 6 o'clock.

The cyclone began about 3 o'clock in the basin of the Masonic cemetery, forming a whirlwind about 1,000 feet in diameter. It took almost every tree in the circle from the ground or twisted it off at the trunk. Great stones were tore up and carried along with the wind. Moving slowly along in a southeasterly direction it wrecked the Catholic chapel and several houses in its course across the prairie adjoining the town. It completely demolished JOHN SCHWARTZ'S large brick house and scattered fifty or more smaller frame houses like so many feathers. In most cases nothing was left to mark the site of dwellings but cellars. The prairies were strewn with timbers, furniture and clothing. The freight depot of the Manitoba road was a total wreck. Numerous cars loaded with freight were blown half a mile and rails wrenched from the track. It passed the limits of the town just west of Lieut. Gov. GILMAN'S residence, killing several horses. It crossed the Mississippi at the Sauk Rapids wagon bridge which it demolished. It here widened to six hundred feet, and levelled [sic] STANTON'S grist mill. From there it swept through the center of the town, taking the best of the business part of it, including the court house, hotel, public school and every important business building in the town except WOOD'S store. The village is virtually wiped out, four-fifths of the buildings being leveled. The fatalities in St. Cloud, though great, are not equal in number to those in Sauk Rapids. In every house most all of the inmates were more or less hurt.

The dead at St. Cloud, so far as known, area as rollows [sic]:
MRS. WEISMAN and little girl and a son 4 years old.
MRS. STEIN, a widow.
A son 4 years old, of P. WALDORFF.
SHORTRIDGE YOUNG, a railroad man.
An unknown railroad man.
Two young children of MR. CENS.
A baby of AUG. KNOLL.

The dead at Sauk Rapids are:
J. BERG, a merchant, and two children.
JOHN KENARD, county auditor.
GEORGE LINDLEY, county treasurer.
Two children of C. G. WOOD, merchant.
Child of P. CARPENTER, clerk of the court.
P. BEAUPRE, judge of the probate court.
EDGAR HILL, president of the German National bank.

A brief dispatch has just been received saying that between 40 and 50 bodies have been recovered from the ruins at St. Cloud and the search is not completed. The town presented a scene of utmost desolation as seen by the light of flickering lanterns and the groans of the wounded and lamentations of those who have lost relatives are heart rending in the extreme.

Among the injured is ex-Senator E. G. HULBERT, formerly of Binghamton, N. Y., but at present Northwestern agent of the New York Mutual Life Insurance company. He is not expected to live.

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 15. -- From Sauk Rapids, the storm struck Rice's Station, Benton countg [sic], demolishing the village and killing or injuring nearly the entire people. The wires are down and no definite information is obtainable from that point.

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 15. -- The reports of the cyclone at St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, Rice Station and other points in that vicinity last night were not exaggerated. At 3 o'clock this morning in the places named there were 49 persons dead and very nearly 200 injured, with many still missing, whose bodies probably will be recovered by night. Just enough houses are left in Sauk Rapids to form a fringe around the village limits. The debris is not piled in heaps, but is scattered far and wide. The sign at Sauk Rapids on the Manitoba depot and a basketful of books were found in Rice Station, 15 miles distant. This shows the terrible power of the storm. No reports have yet been received from outlying districts, where it is believed great destruction of property and loss of life has been wrought. The storm extended from Jamestown, Dakota, through Minnesota and into Wisconsin, though its most disastrous effects are to be found in the three places first named.

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 15. -- The city council this morning voted $5,000 in cash to aid the cyclone sufferers and Gov. HUBBARD dispatched a carload of provisions to Sauk Rapids. The car was accompanied by a committee of the Jobbers Union who will offer all the assistance in their power.