Austin, TX windstorm, Mar 1897


Many Buildings Demolished and Several Lives Lost in a Furious Gale.


State University at Austin Damaged - Two Hundred Lives Imperiled - Some Strange Freaks of the Wind.

Austin, Tex., March 28. - This afternoon at 2 o'clock this city and the surrounding country were visted by a terrific windstorm of fearful force that did no end of damage to life and property. The wind came from the southeast and blew about 50 miles an hour for nearly 20 minutes, tearing down trees or splitting them asunder with awful fury. Several large electric towers were blown down, entailing a loss of some $4,000 or $5,000, inasmuch as the iron frames were twisted as though they were of wire, and will be useless. In addition to this quite a number of houses in the residence portion of the city were blown down and in several cases narrow escapes from death were reported.

The new and unoccupied residence of Burt McDonald, one of the prominent residents, was blown down, striking against the residence of Mr. William Vinging, knocking in one side of the building. The wind played havoc with several lumber yards in the eastern portion of the city, blowing piles of lumber in every direction and scattering ruin and waste on every side. The roofs of a number of residences were torn off and blown a great distance, and in addition to doing much damage to the State University, the wind blew off the entire roof of the adjoining dormitory, letting the rain drive into the four-story building, causing great damage to the building and property of the 200 students therein, many of whom fled for their lives when the roof was carried away.

The roof was carried 100 yards. It fell on and crushed the roof of a cottage in which were four persons, but none were even injured, thought they were entombed by falling debris. A church to the north of the university had the entire east side blown in and was unroofed, the wind carrying the roof a block away. The residence of Dr. Graves, immediately north of the church, was lifted from its foundation, twisted completely around and set down in the same place, so badly damaged, however, that none of the doors could be opened to permit the escape of the frightened inmates.

The small town of Clarkeville, near this city, was swept by the wind and many horses were killed by flying debris, while a number of small houses were blown down, though fortunately the inmates were not killed. Several were badly maimed. With the terrific wind came a driving rain that was little short of a flood. It swept everything before it.

Persons arriving on the evening trains bring reports from the surrounding country to the effect that the storm was general in this section. The small town of Buda, near here, was badly handled by the storm, quite a number of houses being blown down and two persons killed, though their names are not obtainable, owing to the fact that most of the telegraph wires are down and news is very scare.

This is the worst storm that had ever visited this section, and it has laid waste everything in its track, though, fortunately, so far, the reports of deaths resultant are few. The storm was over in an hour and the sun came out.

A wreck of the south-bount H. & T. C. passenger train, leaving here at 8:30 o'clock to-night, is reported to have occurred at Ennis, 20 miles south of here. Owing to the damaged condition of the wires of the Central, no particulars of the accident can be learned.

The Saint Louis Republic, Saint Louis, MO 29 Mar 1897