Tornado of 1857

Terrible Tornado

About 4 PM of Friday of last week a most furious storm visited the town of Augusta Ky. Crossed the Ohio river, and continued its devastating course, for several miles into Ripley County.

A saw mill and several buildings in the lower part of Augusta were unroofed, demolished or more or less injured. The upper edge of the tornado struck the Ferry Boat just as it was landing at Augusta, and drove it into the middle of the river, and carried off one of the wheel houses. A boat lying at the Ohio shore, laden with plaster casts, was torn to pieces – the owners, all Italians, just escaped from it. The two story brick dwelling house, on the Ohio bank, known as the Old Boude Ferry House, was entirely demolished. The Messrs. Lerch the occupants and owners, with their families, were saved by fleeing to open ground, prostrating themselves flat on the ground, and holding fast to posts. The house of Mr. John Patterson, on the hill was unroofed and the barn torn to pieces.

The following account of this frightful hurricane, we copy, from the correspondence of the “True Jeffersonian.”

It pursued a nearly straight course over the hills back of Higginsport and crossed the plank road from Georgetown to Higginsport on the land owned by Oliver Holden, and then went off over the hills in the same direction. The storm was one of most terrific force.

As it went over the hills back of Higginsport it tore up and broke down the largest trees, and scarcely left any standing in its track. Solid green beech, hickory and sugar trees two and three feet in diameter were crushed and torn up, and fell like grass before a scythe. The appearance of the timber over which the tornado passes resembles a piece of stubble which has been passed over by a heavy roller. The timber all lies one way, indicating the direction of the storm, and seems to have gone down in a moment when it was struck.

Such was the force of the wind that took the water and mud from the Ohio river and carried it on to the adjoining farm in such quantities as to make it look as though it had been inundated. It so completely demolished Oliver Holden’s stable as to leave nothing but a heap where it stood.

One peculiarity of which – all who were in the tornado speak, was an intolerable heat, almost to suffocation, and a sulphurous smell with which it was attended. There was a very black cloud which hung over the region through which it passed, with a funnel shaped appearance, black as coal smoke, with the small end towards the earth which seemed to be the embodiment of the storm.

No one was killed, but we have heard, that limbs were broken, and other injuries sustained by several persons in Augusta.


from the Ripley Bee, 185