Fergus Falls, MN Tornado, June 1919 - Early Reports

Grand Hotel, Fergus Falls, Minnesota 1910s.jpg Grand Hotel, Fergus Falls, Minnesota Tornado, Jun 1919.jpg Ottertail County Courthouse, Fergus Falls, MN 1910.jpg Courthouse after the Fergus Falls, MN Tornado, Jun 1919.jpg


Fergus Falls, Minn., June 23—Forty-eight persons are known to have been killed and 150 injured in a tornado which struck Fergus Falls late yesterday. The list compiled today by the state officers, does not include casualties from the surrounding country, struck by the twister. The most deaths occurred in the Grand (correct) hotel which was crushed by the wind. A Great Northern passenger train was blown from the tracks near Fergus Falls: 250 passengers escaped without serious injuries.

Four churches, the jail and court house, buildings of a small college and a number of dwellings were wrecked. Property damage was estimated at between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000.

ST. PAUL, Minn., June 23—Adjutant General Rhinow, who reached Fergus Falls today on a relief train, reporte [sic] that there are about 50 dead in that city, following the tornado which wrecked two blocks of the business district, including the grand central hotel last night.

Rhinow said thirty-six bodies had been recovered and that at least fourteen others were believed dead. His report covered only the Fergus Falls. Communication in the outlying sections was cut off almost entirely.

Most of the dead, Rhinow said, were taken from the wreckage of the grand central hotel. He said there were many injured, now well cared for in hospitals.

Rhinow’s first call was for linemen and electricians.

Harold Darker, publisher, of Elbow Lake, who left Fergus Falls early today, said not over sixty were killed but that 160 were injured.

The Evening State Journal and Lincoln Daily News, Lincoln, NE 23 Jun 1919


Fifty Reported Dead
(By Associated Press)

EVANSVILLE, Minn., June 23—Forty-seven are known to be dead, 106 are injured and in emergency hospitals, and property valued at $6,000,000 is destroyed as a result of the tornado which swept through Fergus Falls late yesterday afternoon. Relief work is under way with plenty of doctors and nurses on hand. There is a possibility that the death list may reach sixty when the ruins of the Grand hotel have been thoroughly searched, as it is known many bodies are still beneath the pile.

The greatest loss of life occurred at the Grand hotel, a three story building. Thirty-five persons are believed to have been killed when the hotel was smashed by the twister. More than fifty guests were in the building.

Special relief trains from St. Paul and Minneapolis arrived at Fergus Falls this morning.

The Otter Tail county court house, county jail and sheriff’s residence were destroyed. At One Mile lake, near Fergus Falls, four children of John Kreidler were blown into the lake and drowned.

Information obtained from the passengers on the Oriental Limited said the rear coaches of the train, which numbered eleven cars, were lifted into the air by the tornado. Only the high banks of the out through which the train was passing saved the coaches from toppling over when the rear coaches slid into the hole gouged in the road-bed by the blast as it swept the baggage car out from the train. The baggage car probably saved the others from going into the Pelican river, which was only 200 feet ahead of the train when the storm came. Twisted across the rails, the baggage car effectually halted the rear coaches, which then toppled over against the bang, remaining almost upright.

Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, IN 22 Jun 1919