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Adams and York Counties, PA Tornado, June 1835


On Saturday, the 27th inst., a violent tornado passed over a part of Adams county, Pa. At Blue Spring, on the left bank of Conowago creek, bertween 4 and 5 P.M., a dark cloud, evidently a storm of rain attended with thunder, rose slowly in a direction of southwest. On its nearer approach, the lightning became frequent and vivid, descending to the earth with tremendous peals. Precisely at 5, the tall, black column of a tornado with its base resting, as it were, on the earth, and its expanded summit involved in the clouds, suddenly presented itself to view amidst a forest of tall trees on the top of the hills half a mile distant, in a due southwest course from the Blue Spring, and three miles westward from Hanover. It descended directly down over the Spring and the cree, and in a few minutes disappeared beyond the heights towards the Pigeon Hills, passing off to the northeast. Soon after, it bacame very dark, and for a short interval there fell a torrent of rain. Subsequently, the writer of this article took a deliberate survey of two or three miles of its ravages. About two miles directly southwest, the stable of MARK LITTLE was found to have been blown down, and some few boards torn from the gable and of his hours. These two buildings were situated at the extreme verge of the tempest on the left. Here also information was obtained, that two miles beyond, and in the same undeviating line, the house of JOSEPH SNEERINGER was unroofed and other damages sustained. JACOB LITTLE, however, suffered more than either of the two preceding. His house, which stands about one hundred rods east by north from that of his brother, (MARK LITTLE) had its roof carried away, a part of which was thrown to some distance, and his barn was levelled to the ground. His family took refuge in the cellar, and escaped unhurt. Nearly half a mile beyond this the tornado crossed the Gettysburg road. Here the house and barn of PETER KRAFT, and the house of SAMUEL FERSYTH, had their roofs swept off and the barn of EDWARD REILY was rent in pieces, and the timber thrown upon the highway. The next building that felt the fury of the blast, was the barn of JOSEPH SCHILLING, half a mile beyoun the Blue Spring, which shared the same fate as the one just mentioned, and the gable end of his house, standing a few rods further on, was partly stripped of his covering. This house was on the extreme right of the vortex. So far as a view was taken of this scene of destruction, which was sometimes narrowed down to twenty rods, at others expanded to nearly the fourth of a mile, the wind displayed the same force as fences were prostrated, and some of the materials scattered to a great distance, poultry destroyed, trees of the largest size uprooted, and some twisted off at different heights, and others stripped of their branches. The position also of fallen trees deserves to be noticed, as they generally presented this remarkable phenomenon, that the trunks of those which fell on the right and left extremities of the tornado, lay at right angles with the centre of its path, the roots being at its verge and the tops within the track, while those trees that had stood at a greater or less distance inwardly, formed angles more or less obtuse with its central line, and the inmost were laid parallel with it. Some who saw the column at a distance, afirm that it discovered an appearance of fire. No personal injury was sustained.
Thus far, something like a competent account can be given of this furious storm, but beyond, all powers of description fail. The terrific and appalling grandeur of the tornado, the awful position of its fitful pause, seemingly in order to select with malignant caprice the next objects of its unsparing violence, its towering height, its deep and loud and sullen roar, its mysterious, gloomy darkness, its self moving, resistless revolution, carrying in its iron grasp the birds that it had ensnared, clothing, branches of trees, and fragments of every description, its impetuous downward rush to the earth, and then again upwards to the skies, its sublime attitude, sometimes erect, at others inclined, its reeling and sweeping movements, all this, and still more, to be adequately understood, must have been seen.

Adams Sentinel Gettysburg Pennsylvania 1835-07-20

article | by Dr. Radut