Massachusetts Tornado, Aug 1851

Large orchards were completely destroyed, great trees were uprooted, twisted, shattered, carried long distances and tossed about like straws. Oaks, walnuts and maples from two to two and a half feet in diameter were treated in the same way. Others were uprooted and carried a hundred feet. A great number of houses had their chimneys carried away, and were also unroofed, the fragments being carried thousands of feet. A two-story brick house was entirely demolished, and pieces blown away, hardly a trace of it remaining. Cars were also blown from the track. A man and a horse were lifted, whirled around, and then set down about a hundred yards away. The track of the wind narrowed as it came near the Medford line, but the fury increased, injuring several persons, and demolishing strongly build houses as if they were made of paper. Roofs were taken up as by suction, and carried into the cloud, being transported in some instances for miles. When the column of cloud and wind caught up the buildings into its huge mouth, it ground them to the smallest fragments, as a mill grinds what is put into it.

Many wonderful incidents occurred in Arlington. The large grocery and dry goods store of Messrs. Fessenden, Whitmore and company was levelled[sic] to the ground. Mr. Fessenden was the only person in the building at the time, and he was buried in the ruins, being extricated in an insensible state. His head and face were badly cut and bruised, but he was finally restored to his normal condition. Two men were blown entirely across Mystic river, and others were carried considerable distances, receiving serious injury. In proceeding to Medford the tornado passed over Spy pond, where two ice-houses were destroyed. In one of them was a man with a horse and chaise. The noise of the wind startled the horse, and the man took him by the bridle. As the building fell, however, the horse started, dragging the man out of it, but the carriage was crushed by the falling timbers. Colonel Douglas of Cambridgeport, with two friends, was sailing on the pond, and the wind lifted the boat upon one end, perpendicularly. The members of the party righted. This disaster was caused by the water at one end of the boat being lifted in a column upwards of a hundred feet in height, and carried to the shore, where some boys, who were playing were covered first with water and then with earth, being finally blown on to the railroad track, completely coated with mud. It not only prostrated the grass and corn, but partly buried them in the earth, making the fields look as if a heavy roller had passed over them. A committee appointed for that purpose appraised the damage in Arlington at twenty-three thousand, six hundred and six dollars.

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