New England Lighthouse Storm, Apr 1851

ma nh the lighthouse storm 1851

The "Lighthouse" Storm, 1851.

Along the New England coast, on Monday, April 14, 1851, began one of the severest storms of rain, hail and snow ever known here. It commenced at Washington, D.C., on Sunday, reached New York Monday morning, and during the day extended over New England. The wind had set in strongly from the northeast some days previous, and on the day the storm began a thick mist slowly gathered. A few hours later it turned to rain, and the wind increased until it blew violently. The moon was at its full, and the water having been blown in upon the shores for several days the tide rose to a greater height in many places that was remembered by the people then living. It swept the wharves and lower streets like a flood, and at Dorchester, Mass., rose nearly seven feet higher than the average tide. Beginning on Monday, it continued about the same on Tuesday, and reached it height Wednesday morning. On Thursday, the wind was still strong, and while it continued to rain on the immediate sea-board snow began to fall a few miles inland. Friday was cloudy and chilly, but on Saturday there was some sunshine. On that night, however, the storm of rain was renewed, the wind blowing form the northeast, and possessing new vigor, but throughout Sunday, snow fell thick and fast, covering the earth both inland and on the sea-shore to a great depth. It was succeeded on the next day by rain. The wind and flood combined did much damage on both land and sea. Wharves were greatly injured all along the New Hampshire and Massachusetts coast, a large amount of property was swept into the sea, and many vessels were wrecked, several lives being lost.

The wind also caused considerable damage inland, fences and trees being prostrated, roofs torn off, and chimneys and buildings blown down. In Lawrence, Mass., a barn was demolished, there being in it five horses, one of which was so much injured that it had to be killed. A man who was in the hayloft at the time was also severely hurt. As a Brighton butcher was passing over the Cambridge bridge, the wind carried himself, his team, and a load of calves into the river and they were carried down to the mill-dam, the calves being drowned but he driver and horse saved. The Lowell bleachery dry-house, three hundred feet long and three stories in height, was blown down, and three hundred pieces of cloth were buried beneath the ruins. The old railroad depot at Wilmington junction and two barns in Tewksbury were demolished, and in Danvers a house and many chimneys were blown down. The steeples of churches suffered in many places. That of the then new Baptist church in Charlestown, was blown down on Wednesday morning, striking the horse and milk cart of a Mr. Locke of Lexington. The horse was killed, and Mr. Locke died from injuries received soon after being taken from the ruins. The steeple also smashed part of a house, but did not harm its inmates. The steeple of the Catholic church at Pawtucket village in Rhode Island, which was one of the tallest in New England, was also blown down; and the then new Episcopal church at the corner of Decatur and Paris streets in Boston was moved from its foundations on Tuesday night, and on the following day was blown completely down.

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