Massachusetts Tornado, Aug 1851

The wind passed through Arlington from the west-southwest to the east-northeast, but when it reached the Mystic river, it took a more northerly course, and kept it till it reached Malden. It passed through the northern part of Medford near the railroad depot, a few rods south of "Wear" bridge, demolishing several houses, barns and other buildings, and damaging many others, and seriously injuring several persons. It destroyed property there to the extent of eighteen thousand seven hundred and sixty-eight dollars, as appraised by a committee appointed at the time for that purpose. The track of the wind in places from one to two feet in depth. Parts of roofs, furniture, agricultural implements, lumber, trees and chimneys were strewn up and down the streets and in the fields. At the "gate", three large and elegant houses were blown down. Miss Brooks' large barn, built of heavy timber and plank, was taken up and carried fifteen feet before it was torn to pieces. The two-story residence of James M. Sandford, the station agent, was carried twenty-feet and blown to fragments, while his son James, who was eighteen years of age, was passing from the barn to the house. It was blown toward him, and his feet became entangled in the partly ripped-up sill of the door-way. One of his legs was torn open from the knee to the ankle, the bones were crushed, and the foot became a shapeless mass. He lay under the timbers three-fourths of an hour before they could be cut away, a work that he directed himself. Both legs were amputated, one above the knee, and the other just above the ankle. At the station a heavy baggage-car, standing on the side track, was driven along the rails one hundred and sixty-five feet, and then taken up and carried sixty-feet, nearly at right angles to the track. A stone wall three and a half feet in height was also levelled[sic] even with the ground, and the stones were scattered a rod of two on each side, badly injuring one of the shoulders of Luke Costello and fracturing the skull of George Maxwell. Five or six persons were also more or less injured in the town by falling buildings, and two men at work upon a new house were thrown several rods, one of them being considerably hurt. Timothy Fagan's house was unroofed, and his wife's ribs were badly jammed by her body being crowded into an opening in one side of the house. A Mr. Nutter's house was also unroofed, and his sick wife escaped injury, though the bedstead on which she was lying was torn apart, and a beam fell upon it. The wife of a Mr. Caldwell, who resided on a hill, while standing in the doorway of her house, was caught up and carried across the fields and over fences and trees about five hundred feet, being safely deposited by the side of a neighbor's barn, without injury, except some slight bruises. She knew nothing of her experience in the air. In another house a woman was sitting with her child in her lap when the building suddenly shook. She thought of no danger, but in a moment of two there was a tremendous crash overhead, and on looking upward she saw the sky, the roof of the house having been carried away. A moment later she was slightly injured on the shoulder by a falling timber. The house of a German farmer Huffmaster was completely shaken to pieces, and he was buried beneath its ruins, receiving a violent contusion of the brain, which proved fatal. A Mr. West, who was building a house for a Mr. Haskins, saw the cloud coming from Arlington, and watched it anxiously. As soon as he saw it destroy a new house where he was at work, and ran, as he says, "for his life," to shelter himself behind a wall only five rods distant from the place from which he started. He had scarcely reached the shelter when the house he had left was totally destroyed. One more instance of the terrible power of the wind in this town is that of a pine tree, ten inches in diameter, which was broken off, carried several hundred feet into the air, and then thrown through the roof and windows of Doctor Kidder's house.

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