Lancaster, PA area Tornado, Jun 1860

Destructive Hail Storm and Tornado in Lancaster.

[From the Lancaster (Pa.) Express of the 20th inst.]

Breaking Down of a House and Barn at Safe Harbor – A Whirlpool in the Conestoga – Injury to Crops – The Hail three inches in depth at Turkey Hill, &c., &c.

On Tuesday evening between five and six o'clock, one of the most destructive hail storms and tornadoes which has ever visited this vicinity, passed over the townships of Mount Joy, Rapho, West Hempfield, Manor and Conestoga, doing great damage to property and the crops. The storm appears to have come from the north or northwest. In this city, although rain fell copiously, there was comparatively little hail, and no damage was done that we have heard of.
The particulars of the storm in the country, as far as they have reached us, are given below:
The first point of which we have any information is at Silver Springs, about four miles south of Mount Joy. At this point the hail fell so thick as to cover the ground to the depth of several inches, and it is said that some of the hail-stones measured three inches in circumference. The corn and tobacco crops were cut to pieces, and the wheat, and oats beaten down.
At Turkey Hill and vicinity the hail is said to have fallen to the depth of three inches, and that in the evening persons were seen shoveling it from their doors. This seems a little steep, but we are assured it is the truth.
At Mount Joy, the hail was also very destructive, breaking windows and doing damage to the yards and gardens in the neighborhood. MR. ABRAHAM HACKMAN, of that place, who came to this city last evening after the storm, brought with him about a half bushel of hail-stones in a bag, some of which, even several hours after they had fallen, were as large as ordinary sized hickory nuts.
The next we hear of the storm is at Mountville. A reliable correspondent at that place furnishes us with the following particulars:
Yesterday evening, at half-past five o'clock, our town and neighborhood was visited by one of the heaviest thunder and hail storms that was ever known here. In less than five minutes, the ground was literally covered with falling hail, which continued for about twenty-five minutes; the rain in the meantime falling thick and heavy in perfect floods. Vegetation is completely cut to shreds, small plants were deeply buried in the ground, cherries, apples, &c., were cut from the trees, covering the ground with the green fruit. The tobacco farmers' hopes are frustrated. The plants are completely cut to pieces. The Wheat and Rye are leveled with the ground – the stalks split and the heads cut off. The grain is very much injured, as the heads are not yet filled, and will not, therefore, come to perfection
The creeks were swelled higher than ever known, carrying fences and everything in their course. About fifteen tons of dried hay in the meadow of L. C. GARBER were swept away and much damage was otherwise done. The storm extended about six miles wide (east and west) and as far south as through Manor township, as we have learned. The hail stones north and south have been larger than here, stripping trees of their foliage, &c., and being from one to three inches in circumference. Window glass market firm.

The storm when it reached Safe Harbor seems to have attained its full power. At this point its destructiveness to property and the crops is incalculable at this time. It is said to have struck Safe Harbor about half-past five o'clock. The first indications of its approach were deep black clouds coming up over the hill to the north, carrying with them boards, shingles, limbs of trees, and everything indeed which could not resist their force. An eye-witness informs us that the tornado – for such it really became when it reached this point – approached slowly and looked fearfully sublime. The dark masses of clouds rolled and pitched over one another as if an army of demons were in deadly conflict, while the lower strata tore off shingles and boards from the roofs of houses, or licked them up from insecure places. They went up into the dark rolling clouds, and every now and then were revealed to the eye by vivid flashes of lightning. The phenomena are said to have been appalling to the beholder.
When the storm struck the Conestoga, in front of HESS' MANSION HOUSE HOTEL, it completely lifted the entire body of water from its bed, so that those who were on the banks of the creek at the time could see the bottom. In the creek was a large quantity of lumber belonging to MR. REINHOLD, of this city, which is also carried up. But singular to relate, an adverse current of wind carried water and lumber back to the bed of the creek.
The tornado next struck the islands in the Susquehanna, where it did great damage. The two story frame house and barn belonging to SNYDER, SOURBEER & CO., were levelled with the ground. When the tornado reached the house it smashed in all the windows and dashed it to fragments. The occupants of the house, about fifteen in number, who saw the storm approach, took refuge in the cellar, and strange to say, all escaped without any serious injury.
MR. WILLIAM WILLIAMSON, was on the island working, and when he saw the tornado coming, he took hold of a tree to prevent being blown away. The tree was torn up by the roots, carried a distance of about a hundred yards and MR. WILLIAMSON with it. He escaped with a few bruises.
MR. JOHN CAMPBELL who was also on the island, was blown into the river, but saved himself by clinging to a tree which had fortunately floated by him.
The crops on the island were completely destroyed. The loss on the island, it is estimated, amounts to twelve and fifteen hundred dollars.
The tornado is said to have been about three quarters of a mile in width. Some of the hail stones which fell in the neighborhood of Safe Harbor were of extraordinary size, many of them as large as hen's eggs. The cost of repairing broken windows will prove a heavy item. The crops between Safe Harbor and Millersville are much damaged, the corn in many places is cut to shreds, while the other grain is badly beaten down and cut up.

We learn that in the vicinity of Marietta the crops were much cut and damaged.
After passing over Safe Harbor, the storm seems to keep on its course towards the Maryland line, doing injury to the crops in Conestoga and Martic townships, but we have no particulars from these places.
We hope by to-morrow to be able to furnish particulars from all sections of the county where the storm did any injury. We believe the above details, which we have gathered and collected with much care, are essentially correct.

The Huntingdon Globe Pennsylvania 1860-06-27