Some Peculiar Effects Produced by the Storm, which Lasted But a Few Minutes

Had the tornado that visited Lyle last night been two blocks further south the little town would have been wiped off the face of the earth. As it was the damage will amount to $30,000. While one man is dead, two others are not expected to recover and a score of others are more or less injured.

At about 6:55 those who were looking at the west saw two black clouds approaching each other, one from the north and the other from the south. As they met, they turned to a snowy white funnel with the narrow end resting on the ground. At its narrowest point it was about eight rods wide. With the sound of an old case threshing machine it tore along destroying everything in its path.

The tornado formed about a mile the other side of the Freeborn county line and swept a straight path due east. East of Lyle there were but two or three houses destroyed. But from Lyle, west six miles is a long trail of ruin.

The first house to be struck was that of Mrs. Funda's where it tore off an addition to the house. The course of the storm from there on with its attendant damages was as follows:

J.O. Owen, buildings destroyed, all in cellar, nobody hurt.

Charles Howard, barn destroyed.

Woodbury Schoolhouse smashed to splinters.

Charles Seaverson, skull fractured, buildings demolished.

W. Stripe, house and barn destroyed, Mrs. Stripe injured.

John Johnson, buildings ruined.

Mrs. Lars Berg, new house destroyed.

Jos. Wyborny, all buildings totally destroyed.

Henry Hanson, 2 1/2 miles west, killed, building destroyed.

Mrs. Hanson and three children badly injured.

August Webber, barn and windmill.

John Webster, barn and windmill.

Willis Bryan, all buildings, family saved in cellar.

Christian Peterson, Mads Peterson, Peter Peterson, all seriously injured and buildings destroyed.

The storm struck Lyle north of C.G.W. round house. Tipped over two freight cars standing on the Milwaukee tracks, [damaged the] city water tower, thence east destroying everything in its way.

Peter Hanson, leg broken.

Mrs. Hanson, rib broken, internally injured.

Robert Hanson, 18 year old son, cut terrible on forehead and not expected to live.

Mrs. Hugson, visiting at Hansons, seriously injured.

Mr. and Mrs. Brooks of Clarion, Iowa, at Hansons, seriously injured.

Charles Larson, badly bruised about head, house and barn demolished.

Mrs. Larson and child, seriously injured.

Dr. Frazer, barn completely demolished.

Chris Christensen, new house partly destroyed.

Mrs. Nelson, two miles east, barn destroyed.

Rev. Eggen, windmill brown down.

Henry Hanson, who was killed was milking a cow. He was found dead over 100 feet from the site of the barn. Several horses and cows were also killed here.

Willis E. Bryan saw the storm coming and took his family to the cellar and had them stand against the west wall. Every stick of timber of the house was blown away and all escaped except Mr. Bryan who had a big rock blown upon his foot as he stoood in the cellar.

One of the most remarkable escapes was that of the Peter Hanson family, living in town. He was erecting a new house, and he and his family of six and three visitors were eating supper in the barn which stood just west of the new house. The storm blew the barn, family and house across the prairie. There was not a soul there but was carried over 50 feet while the ruins of the buildings were carried a quarter of a mile.

The storm noted in a peculiar manner in town. After striking the Peter Hanson house, it dodged around Dr. Frazier's residence, breaking a few windows there, and totally demolished the new house of Charles Christenson.

Dr. Fraze's barn however did not escape; that went across the prairie in small pieces. A cow weighing 1100 pounds was carried 100 feet and so badly injured that it had to be killed. A cow that stood beside it and was also carried away, and escaped without a scratch.

At Henry Hanson's house was a pocketbook containng $190. The pocketbook was found open, and lying beside it was a $10 bill. The $180 had been blown away.

The tornado seems to have traveled like a bouncing rubber ball, striking in one place, then rising and descending again. After striking Chris Christianson's place it rose up and dropped again half a mile east, when it struck two barns, then rose again and came down, taking a barn and granery two miles east of Lyle. From there on the storm seems to have broken and simply blown as a heavy wind, having lost its rotating motion.

In this connection it is of interest to know that the tornado damage in Minnesota from '89 to '08 was $578,200. . . .

Editor John Gould of the Lyle Tribune proved a friend to all reporters send to report the affair. He gave them full particulars. Besides doing so he printed his own paper containing a brief but comprehensive report of the storms work.

In the window of the Lyle Post Office hung the United States weather forecast for the day. It read, "Mild showers and clearing."


This article is from the Austin Democrat, June 15, 1897, page 4, col. 1 & 2

Submitted to MNGenWeb by Kathy Pike.
Transcribed by K. Kittleson 3/2010

NOTE: There is a photo of damage from this tornado in the Mower county Pictures section -- Album 6.