Pittsburgh, PA Storm, Mar 1902

Pittsburg, Pa., March 30 – One of the fiercest wind storms ever known in this section struck the city today just before noon and did tremendous damage to the property and injured many people, some of whom may die. Scores of houses were unroofed, many trees were blown down, ill stacks toppled over and telegraph and telephone wires were generally disabled.

The towboat Belle McGowan was blown over in the Ohio river, opposite Sawmill Run, and completely wrecked. Her crew narrowly escaped drowning, but all were finally rescued by harbor boats.

The corrugated iron roof of the Union bridge at the Point was lifted from its fastenings by the wind and parts of it carried a distance of a mile.

Jones and Laughlins lost fourteen of their furnace stacks. These were blown down, necessitating the closing of a portion f their plant for a week.

Reports from near-by towns are coming in slowly, probably on account of its crippled condition of the wires. It is feared that much damage has been done in those places.

The baseball park in Allegheny lost one of its fences and a portion of the grand stand roof.

More than 2,500 lights of glass in the Phipps conservatory in Schenley park were broken and much of the gorgeous Easter flowers display ruined.

The Montana apartment house at Penn avenue and Fairmont street, east end, and the Idaho building, which adjoins it, were partially destroyed.

Almost the entire east end district of this city is in darkness tonight, the electric lighting system having been put out of commission by the storm. The downtown portions were repaired early in the afternoon.

The storm which came upon the city very suddenly came up through the Ohio valley and passed on eastward. It lasted only about thirty minutes, only five minutes of which was the velocity usually high. In that five minutes practically all of the damage done was accomplished.

The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, GA 31 Mar 1902








Pittsburg, Pa., March 31 – The damage by yesterday’s storm will probably reach several hundreds of thousands of dollars. The effects of the wind can be seem on all sides today, houses, churches, and many large plants unroofed, bridges partly dismantled, fences ad trees down and trolley, telegraph, telephone and fire alarm wires prostrated.

A remarkable feature of the storm was the number of churches that were injured. In Pittsburg and Allegheny and the immediate vicinity eleven houses of worship were more or less wrecked, but in only one of them, the Knoxville Presbyterian church, did any casualties occur. At the latter place, through the chimney coming through the roof, probably thirty-five persons were injured.


The local churches damaged are: St. Peter’s Protestant Episcopal Bellefield Presbyterian, St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic and Eighth street Temple, of Pittsburg; African Methodist Episcopal and St. Wencelaus’ Bohemian Roman Catholic, of Allegheny; First English Lutheran and United Presbyterian, of Braddock; Knoxville Presbyterian, St. Mary’s Roman catholic, McKee’s Rock and Robinson Run United Presbyterian church, at McDonald, Pa.

The casualties as far have been reported will not number more than sixty people injured, of whom five or six are likely to die.

Those probably hurt were injured at the Knoxville Presbyterian church, and Robinson Run United Presbyterian church, McDonald. The linemen in the employ of the different telegraph and telephone companies and the bureau of fire and lighting were busy all night getting the systems in working order from the damage sustained during the storm. Lines were down in all directions, but the men at work repairing the damage, expected to have the lines ion working order before night.


A peculiar feature of the storm was that the weather bureaus records show only a maximum velocity of wind of thirty-six miles an hour. Col. Frank Ridgeway, chief of the Pittsburg weather bureau, says it was only a squall, likely to occur at any time this season of the year. The conditions were cyclonic, but where the wind was the strongest its velocity would not exceed fifty or sixty miles an hour.

The weather today is blustery and snowy and high winds still prevail, but the velocity is not strong enough to do any more damage.

Dispatches from surrounding towns in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia report heavy damage from the storm, but no fatalities.

The Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne, IN 31 Mar 1902

History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania 1889 Read it online

Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania : personal and genealogical, with portraits Read it online

History of Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania 1886 Read it online

Allegheny County : a sesqui-centennial review 1938 Read it online

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