Mankato and Wells, MN Tornado, Aug 1946

At Least Five Killed As Twister Strikes Mankato

Tourist Camp Outside City Is Demolished

Death Toll May Hit 15; Road Grader Lifted On Tracks As Train Approaches.

MANKATO, Minn. -- (AP) – At least five persons were killed and many injured early Saturday night when a twister demolished a 22 cabin tourist camp on the outskirts of Mankato.

Deputy Sheriff HENRY SCHWEICKERT of Blue Earth county said early reports to him indicated the death list may total 15.

The known dead were:
RONALD J. WIRIG, about 40, of Mankato.
GERALD NURRE, of Bancroft, Iowa.
SIDNEY CASPER, of Mankato.
DONALD NELSON, of Butterfield, Minn.
An unidentified woman, about 42.
The five known dead were reported by ED WOLD, ambulance driver who made several trips to the storm area to bring injured to hospitals.

WOLD, one of the first to arrive at the scene, said “there were people strewn all over the place and the buildings were shattered.”

One of the dead was identified by Sheriff FRANK CORD as RONALD J. WIRIG, of Mankato, about 35 years old.

Ledger Lost
The tourist's camp's registration ledger was lost in the storm, but it was believed about 40 persons were registered at the place.

Striking at 6:45 p. m., CST, the twister swept through the small cabins, three miles south of Mankato, reducing most of them to timbers. Twenty-five automobiles belonging to cabin residents were hurled onto Omaha railroad tracks nearby.

Every available vehicle was pressed into service to take injured to Immanuel and St. John's hospitals in Mankato.

Bread Truck Ambulance.
A bread truck, its racks empty, hauled seven injured to Mankato.

JERIT WOHLFORD, who lives on the outskirts of Mankato, said he took five small children in his car to a hospital.

Hearses, trucks and taxis were dispatched to the storm area to transport additional injured.

DONALD WOLD, an ambulance driver, and brother of ED WOLD who reported the known dead, after making a trip to carry injured, said he hadn't seen “anything like this since I fought the Germans in France.” WOLD, a recently returned war veteran, said “people were lying everywhere. The whole place is wrecked. Trees were stripped down to their trunks.”

A short distance from the tourist camp, a large highway department road grader was picked up and deposited on the Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Omaha tracks several yards away.

An approaching freight train was flagged down, coming to a stop about a block from the big vehicle.

Nearby, an automobile was wrapped around a pole, with occupants of the machine injured.

The storm area, 80 miles south of Minneapolis, was estimated at a half mile in length. Telegraph and telephone wires were torn down and trees flattened.
A house two blocks from the tourist camp was wrecked, but eight occupants of the home escaped serious injury by fleeing to the basement.

Clothing Blown Off
MRS. HARVEY MATCHETT of Mankato who had been playing golf at the Minneopa Gold club, near the tourist camp, said she had assisted one woman camp occupant, who had most of her clothing torn off by the force of the wind.

MRS. MATCHETT and KENNETH BOHKES, son of the golf course manager, said there were so many persons strewn on the ground that they hardly knew which victim to help first.

An emergency call for nurses was sounded in Mankato by A. P. KROST, Blue Earth county Red Cross chairman. KROST, one of the first at the storm scene, said he took one look and hurried back to town to get nurses.

Rescue workers started an immediate search of the wreckage for additional victims and patrols scoured the surrounding area in the belief the strong wind which so quickly shattered the lightly constructed cabins, might have carried victims out of the immediate camp area. A hunt also was underway for the camp register.

One woman autoist who was driving on Highway 169 near the tourist camp reported her car was lifted off the road and tossed into a ditch. She escaped injury.

The La Crosse Tribune Wisconsin 1946-08-18

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