Mankato and Wells, MN Tornado, Aug 1946



Town of Wells Also Struck; Eight Reported Hurt in Blow There.

Mankato, Minn. -- (AP) – At least seven persons were killed and more than 50 injured last night in a tornado that momentarily dipped from the sky to destroy a 22 cabin tourist camp in scenic Minnesota river valley, three miles southwest of Mankato.
St. Joseph's hospital reported it had treated 32 injured and the community's other hospital, Immanuel, had “over 20 injured.”

Operating Rooms Filled.
Both hospitals said operating rooms were filled and that injured were lying or standing in corridors waiting for surgical treatment.

The known dead included:
RONALD J. WIRIG, about 40, of Mankato.
GERALD NURRE, of Bancroft, Ia.
SIDNEY CASPER, of Mankato.
DONALD NELSON, of Butterfield, Minn.
An unidentified Woman, about 42.

Mankato, a town of about 16,000 population, 85 miles southwest of Minneapolis, last night was a community of awestricken residents. Hundreds lined the streets of the of the business area, watching silently as a three-hour shuttle of ambulances, taxicars, hearses and other vehicles brought injured to hospitals.

The area struck was small – four blocks by about two – but the violence was intense, with the Green Gables tourist camp, situated near Minneopa state park, bearing the brunt.

Hit at 6:45 P. M.
Coming in from the west, the funnel shaped cloud descended at 6:45 p. m. CST, and in a matter of seconds whipped upwards and away. The 22 lightly constructed cabins, all of which were occupied, were shattered. Timbers and cabin occupants were hurled like matchsticks.

First arrivals at the storm scene said the cabin site looked like a battle field. Persons were strewn over the area. Some were dead.

HAROLD MISHLER of Mankato told of following the tornado as it approached the camp.

Saw Funnel Approach.
“It was a small dark funnel when I first noticed it,” MISHLER said. “It came up from the west. It didn't seem to be traveling very fast. I could see it dropping lower. I know it was loaded with trouble so I slowed down my truck. I was afraid of running into it.”

“The cloud dipped down to the ground when it reached the Minnesota valley, just at the place where the tourist camp was. I came in sight of the camp in time to see three cabins go. They just flew into pieces. When I pulled up, some people were lying around. Others were walking around dazed. We put as many injured into the track as we could and I brought them into town.”

“The wrecks of the cabins and a lot of automobiles were blown into a 30-foot cut along the Omaha railroad right-of-way. Some of the trash landed on the tracks. I understand a couple of automobiles with people in them landed in the bottom of the cut. The camp was right on the edge of the cut so the wreckage didn't have far to go.”

Eight Injured at Wells, Minn.
Albert Lea, Minn. -- (AP) – Eight persons, possibly more, were injured last night in a tornado which swept the west end of the village of Wells, 20 miles northwest of Albert Lea.

The eight known injured were brought to Naeve hospital in Albert Lea, but six were released after being treated for cuts and bruises.

Dr. D. E. NELSON, of Albert Lea, who answered an emergency call for help at Wells, discounted first reports that several hundred persons were injured and that 300 or 400 were trapped in a theater.

“There was no large group trapped in any building,” Dr. NELSON said.
The west end of the Wells main street, a few side streets and a portion of the residential district were hardest hit.

Waterloo Daily Courier Iowa 1946-08-18