Superior, WI Tornado, Jul 1891

TERRIFIC and fatal storm.

St. Paul, Minn., July 16. --- A West Superior, Wisconsin, special to the Pioneer Press says: A wind storm of terrific violence swept over this city today carrying death and destruction in its path. The wind was accompanied by pouring rain and the air was heavily charged with electricity. The storm lasted only about 30 minutes, but during that period many thousands of dollars of damage was done. It is reported that five lives were lost.

During the progress of the storm an alarm of fire was turned in from the Fifth ward and the department responded to find the new large four-story frame hotel on Third street near Lambern avenue a mass of ruins. The structure had blown down and immediately the cry went up that the wreck was the tomb of many men. The building is a complete wreck. In spite of the pouring rain the visitors at the scene are lending their assistance in the rescue.

At a late hour to-night the dead were:
JOHN LAUR, married, aged 36 years.
CHARLES LUCAS, single, 24 years.
HERMAN PANSSEY, single, aged 26 years.
UNKNOWN MAN about 35 years of age.
JOHN SCHOFIELD died of injuries received in the back, and broken limbs.

Among the more seriously injured are
JOHN BROWN, with broken legs and
JOHN LONG with internal injuries: it is thought he will die.
DICK CLARKE and others were injured more or less seriously.

Doctors CONNOR and WILLIE did excellent work in the matter of caring for the injured and providing for their convenience. The assistant chief of the fire department sustained a broken leg during the work of rescue.


Men worked with desperation; women ran about regardless of rain and mud waving their hands and shrieking, filled with fear that their husbands or brothers had been buried in the ruin. An eye witness of the disaster says he saw a crowd of workmen running to the building to seek shelter from the storm.


Fully 30 or 40 men must have been inside. They were distributed over all the floors. It appears that all the men on the third floor took warning first and five were seen to jump and get away in safety. In this building was the main damage done, but other property was injured also.


The Silver Creek Morris Coal company works were badly damaged and this will delay the handling of coal. A large frame building at the corner of Byrd and Lower street, South Superior, was blown down and the Steel plant reports a number of buildings levelled, [sic] but no causalities. The wind played havoc with the Unitarian church, Union depot and other buildings, but no serious fires resulted. Had one broken out it would hace [sic] found the city practically helpless. There are no reports of disaster on the lake or harbor.

Aspen Weekly Times Colorado 1891-07-18



High Winds Play Havoc at Superior, Wis.

Five Men Crushed to Death Under a Ruined Building.

A wind-storm of terrific violence swept over Superior, Wis., carrying death and destruction in its path. The wind was accompanied by pouring rain. The air was heavily charged with electricity. The storm lasted only about thirty minutes, but during that period many thousand dollars of damage was done, besides the taking of at least five lives and the visiting of terrible injuries upon many persons.

The storm gathered in the northwest and almost at the same moment the rain began falling the wind changed from the northwest and blew with terrific force from the storm's quarter. The air was filled with flying debris. At the corner of Tower avenue was a small wooden structure, which was the first building struck and was utterly demolished.

Three blocks east of this point was a large three-story frame building in course of construction. Carpenters, painters, and plasterers were at work to the number of twenty-five. When the storm came up, Head Carpenter GRASS called to his men to get out of the building, and twelve of them jumped from windows. At the same moment a number of passers-by ran into the structure to escape the storm. As they entered the building, without an instant's tremor or warning it collapsed, burying 17 men. The structure did not move a foot from its foundation. It simply flattened out as though by a terrible blow from above. Three tinners on the roof remained where they were and escaped serious injury, though the fall was thirty-eight feet.

Hundreds saw the catastrophe, and the work of rescue began at once. The ruins stood six feet above ground and the roof seemed to cover the whole, greatly retarding the work of rescue. It was an hour before the first body was recovered. Wives and children of the buried men tore frantically at the broken timbers in vain effort to find their loved ones beneath, and police had to carry many women away by force before the Fire Department could work.

At 5 o'clock the body of HERMAN ROUSSEY was found in a sitting position, bent nearly double. JOHN LAW was found on his back with four timbers lying across him. SCOFIELD was found on the third floor still alive. He died as soon as the weight was lifted from his body. It was found that his back was broken. It was over an hour before another body was found. One of the two injured men who were taken out, SEMPLE, was wedged between to upright timbers that saved his life.
The bodies of LUCIUS and an unknown man were found in the wreck of a room on the ground floor. Five men escaped miraculously with slight injury. The building was a flimsy affair.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1891-07-24