Two Recent Tornadoes
New England Magazine, New Series, September, 1903, Vol. XXIX, No. 1
Part of an article entitled: "The Lowell Explosion and Other Natural Disasters"
In the way of natural disasters New England can recall two tornadoes which are notable, not only for their destruction of life and property, but for the comparative and fortunate rarity of such disturbances in this part of the country. The most recent of these was the storm which swept the New England coast on July 4, 1898, causing considerable minor damage to property in many coast towns, and developing a genuine tornado at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. The wind whirl struck the beach about half a mile north of Whittier's hotel, and cut a swath a hundred yards wide to the westward, and then passed out to sea. As it came in over the water, those on the beach saw a yacht, anchored about a mile out, disappear in its dark folds. Falling upon the beach, it crushed flat nearly a score of small cottages, rolled people over and over along the sand, and did its worst work in wrecking the old skating rink. This was a frame building, fifty by one hundred feet, used that day for an electrical spectacle called, "The Sinking of the Maine,"—a title whose familiar strangeness has only five years later a strange flavor of the forgotten excitement of the Spanish War. In the wrecking of this building, the roof fell upon some three hundred persons, instantly killing three of them and seriously injuring at least a hundred others. The yacht seen from shore on the approach of the storm was capsized, and four of its pleasure passengers were drowned, while others were resuscitated only by heroic labors on the part of rescuers. Several other boats were capsized. The death list numbered eight in all. The damage to property was not great in terms of dollars, owing to the slight character of most of the wrecked buildings. Some of the larger hotels lost piazzas and blinds, with no substantial damage. On the same day, just before six o'clock, another small tornado developed in the cyclonic area, which included the whole New England coast, capsized the small excursion steamer "Surf City," just as she was leaving Salem Willows, with forty passengers aboard; eight of these were drowned, most of them being women and children, shut in the cabin.