Source: Fort Wayne News, July 30, 1898, p. 7
A special from North Manchester, Ind., says: This vicinity was
visited yesterday afternoon by the most destructive storm in many years. Trees
were blown down and many buildings were unroofed. One end of the Rex windmill
plant was blown away, the top of the main school building was carried to the
ground and lightning destroyed three barns in town. Hundreds of acres of corn
have been laid to the ground and great loss to fruit has been sustained.
The storm lasted about thirty minutes.
Source: NMHS Newsletter, November
Dust Storm Sweeps over Indiana Fields
Probably the worst
dust storm this section of the country ever experienced came Thursday, starting
early in the forenoon and continuing to increase in severity until after
nightfall. While it was not quite as bad as the storm told about a couple of
weeks ago in Oakes, North Dakota where they claimed they could not see a
building 200 feet away, yet it was plenty bad and worse than we ever want to see
again. A part of the dust may have come from North Dakota but there was lots of
Indiana dust mixed in the clouds.
In the field, on
the roads and in the open street the clouds of dust made life disagreeable. It
filtered through the most tiny crevices in the houses, spread itself over the
nicely polished surfaces left by the spring house cleaning. The old timer shook
his head and admitted he had never seen anything like it before - and hoped he
would never see anything like it again. Friday morning the air was clear but at
times during the afternoon there were dust clouds again in the air, but nothing
like as bad as on the afternoon before.
Source: NMHS Newsletter, February 1990
Snows and Cold of Yesterday
By Dr. L.Z. Bunker and Mrs. Edna Frushour Heeter
Unlike religion and politics the weather is not a
controversial subject, hence its popularity for discussion.
The severe cold in December has brought out many tales of past winter
Our present United States Weather Service began in the
office of the U.S. Surgeon General Lovell in 1818; his efforts were later
combined with the U.S. Army Signal Corps and the Smithsonian Institution.
Since the combined services are less than 100 years old, we depend on
local tales and family legends for information.
There are stories of deep snows in the trackless land of
the pioneers, later snow to the height of fence posts, and snow that was
tunneled to a farmer’s barn.
Civil War buffs tell us of the cold New Year’s Day, January
1, 1865, when bitter cold extended from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast and
east to the Atlantic Ocean. This
was near the end of the Civil War, and General Sherman’s army was marching
through Georgia and into the Carolinas.
Advancing without the usual supplies, the troops suffered severely from
the cold. No temperature readings
are available for this period. One
local soldier, Charles Kohser, wrote home to his folks to send him an overcoat.
Early tales tell of schools closed for weeks due to deep
snow. The rivers were covered with
ice, though occasionally some broke through and were drowned.
The early years of the 20th century were marked
by excessive cold and deep snow in this area.
Horse-drawn school buses were abandoned for bobsleds, and Dr. George K.
Balsbaugh, a North Manchester physician, had a farmer drive him in a bobsled to
see his patients. Frostbite was a
The lowest temperature recorded in North Manchester was -28
degrees F in the winter of 1912-1913.
A storm had struck in October and kept the country frozen until late
The 1918 was marked by heavy snow and, as a little girl,
Edna Frushour Heeter who lived on a farm eight miles south of North Manchester
took a snapshot with a Brownie camera of snow up to the porch roof of her
farmhouse. She sent this to her two
brothers who were with the United States Army (AEF) working as airplane
mechanics near Versailles, France.
There are more stories of cold and snows, especially severe
in the early 1930’s. With radio and
later TV reports and warnings from the expanded United States Weather Service,
however, much misery and disasters could be averted.
The year 1978 was a year of heavy storms, snow and ice
extending over wide areas. But the
all-time record for cold was in our recent December 21, 1989, storm when the
official temperature was -30 degrees F, the lowest ever recorded in this area.
Source: NMHS Newsletter May 1994
Famous North Manchester Storms
It was on January 12, 1918, that a storm struck North Manchester that made even
the old timers admit they had never seen anything like it. The snow and wind had
raged all day on Friday, the 11th, and a southbound Big Four freight got stuck
in a snow drift south of the river about 2:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. The
northbound passenger train never made it to North Manchester on Friday and
finally returned to Wabash.
by Ferne Baldwin
Two engines were sent from Wabash to try to reach the stranded freight but were
unable to get through. Shovelers worked all day Saturday but because of the high
wind and the intense cold could not get the tracks cleared. A carload of hogs
was part of the train and canvas was used to cover the slatted side of the car
to keep the hogs from freezing. The train had two engines and all the water had
to be drained from them to keep the pipes from bursting.
The crew was in the caboose with plenty of fuel and food so they were reasonably
comfortable. The train stayed there all day Saturday and Sunday and finally,
late on Monday, the snow plow from Wabash cleared the track so the train could
Not much moved in Manchester on Saturday. No mail came to town; there were no
rural deliveries and James Almack was the only city carrier to make a delivery.
Busses and rigs were stuck in snow drifts. Car owners did not venture out.
Telephone and telegraph lines were down. Temperatures ranged from 20 to 25
degrees below zero, but a very strong wind made it much worse.
WW I was on and because of fuel rationing, there was a very limited amount of
coal in town. Most stores closed Saturday afternoon and did not reopen in the
evening. Beginning Monday the town slowly came to life again.
A much more sustained storm period came in 1936. On January 21 North Manchester
had a heavy snowfall with almost blizzard force winds which caused blocked
highways. Several people in stranded autos froze to death in northern Indiana.
Others who lived alone were found dead in their homes.
On January 22, North Manchester had 17 below zero; International Falls,
Minnesota had 55 below. Day after day there was subzero weather. By early
February the ground was frozen so deeply that water began to freeze in both town
and country. Some farmers hauled water from North Manchester for the livestock.
Water users in town were told to keep their water faucets partly open.
On February 3, there was snow, sleet and rain along with a high wind that glazed
roads and closed the schools. Then it started thawing for a day or two but by
Saturday night another blizzard hit the community and temperatures were about
twelve below zero by Sunday morning February 9. Most schools were closed.
Some opened briefly but another heavy snow on February 12 caused them to close
again for Thursday and Friday. Thirteen inches of ice was reported on Eel River
and ice on lakes was as thick as three feet. More water pipes froze. Chester
school was closed on February 17 and 18.
Then came the rain, thaw and flood. Eel River and Pony Creek both rose above
flood stage. The thick ice heaved up in thick chunks. It jammed up at the bends
of the river, especially below Liberty Mills and just below the Pennsylvania
railroad bridge. The Liberty Mills jam broke but collected again at the Second
Street bridge. Water flowed from the river across Sycamore and Mill Street and
flooded several homes in Riverside. Dynamite was finally used to break the ice
jam at the Second Street bridge.
Other towns were flooded, too. Peru was isolated for a time. Logansport was
flooded and even part of Lagro and Rich Valley. Wabash residents in low areas
had to be evacuated and about 100 were lodged at the city hall or other
buildings. Some factories were under water. The temporary bridge across the Eel
on Road 15 was washed away as well as forms and material. There were no
Pennsylvania trains for two days. Eel River overflowed and water poured directly
into Pony Creek. Officially the river was 14 feet above low water level. New
York Central trains were held south of Urbana because the track washed out at
Paw Paw Creek. Old timers in many parts of the U.S. remember the winter of '36.
Certain winters become fixed in the memory of people as record breakers either
for cold temperature, heavy snowfall, or floods. Maybe with all the talk of
global warming such winters are a thing of the past. Some are eager for a real
humdinger again just to reassure us that we are not becoming "too warm."