Arlington, MA Tornado, Aug 1871
August 28, 1871, Arlington was for a second time visited by a tornado, less destructive than that of August, 1851, already described with considerable of detail, but a serious affair, especially to two of the churches. The following is the story of that disaster as told in the columns of the issue of Woburn Journal, dated Sept. 2, 1871:
The gale which prevailed Sunday night was quite severe. The wind was especially furious in Arlington. The windows of the residence of Judge William E. Parmenter, on Russell street, were blown in. The rear part of the house of Thomas J. Russell on Main street, was damaged by a large elm tree blown against it. Much damage was done on "High," Grove and Mill streets. Individual losses are not great, but the aggregate is large. The spire of the Orthodox Congregational Church on Pleasant street was blown down. If was about one hundred and thirty feet was blown down. It was about one hundred and thirty feet high. The gust was so sudden and severe that the spire was turned end for end. The vane and upper part were shattered as they touched the ground, but the timbers were so strong above the bell deck that they did not break, and amid the wreck the bell was bottom side up twenty feet from the ground. The church stands back from the street and none of the neighboring dwellings were reached by the falling spire.
The tower of the Unitarian Church at the corner of Main and Pleasant streets, was a beautiful structure, one hundred and eighty feet high. It was blown over from level with the ridgepole of the church. When it fell towards the northeast, the neighbors thought some building had been demolished by lightning. The town clock which was in tower, was thrown down beneath the wreck. Both churches are not injured except in their towers. The spires will be at once rebuilt. The other two churches of the town were not within the range of the tornado. It was twenty years on Tuesday last, the 22d ult., since Arlington, then West Cambridge, was visited by a destructive tornado which passed through the town about a hundred rods to the east of the path of that of Sunday evening.
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