1857 Great Tornado at Augusta


 We find the following relative to a destructive tornado at Augusta, Ky., in the Cincinnati Commercial:

It commenced at twenty-six minutes past 4 o’clock on Friday evening, and lasted ten minutes.  The atmosphere was exceedingly disagreeable, and apparently of two colors.  A dense volume as black as coal smoke was first visible, followed by a second the color of steam.  The hurricane approached from the Ohio shore, demolishing and sweeping the timber before it a width of one hundred yards, destroying the vineyard and residence of Mr. Leech, known as the “Ferry House.”  Loss, $3000.  Also, the dwelling of Jno. Patterson, rendering it a total ruin. As the tornado crossed the river the spray was thrown into the air an almost inconceivable height, said by some witnesses to be between three and four hundred feet.  The bank on the Kentucky shore was torn and broken by the force of the wind, s if it had been bombarded by a heavy cannonade.  At the landing on the Ohio side was a small trading boat freighted  with plaster of Paris casts, and containing a couple of Italians; this boat, together with the men, was whirled into the air a great height, and fell again into the stream bottom upwards.  The men floundered out, as best they could, and escaped with no other injury than a ducking.

Two men, named Joseph Armor and Alex. Case were crossing the river in horse ferry boat, when the wind struck the craft and careened it until one of the guards was several feet under water.  It is said that one of the men seized hold of the bell-rope and pealed an alarm, but, of course, no assistance could be rendered.  The boat finally righted, having lost both wheel-houses during its encounter with the elements.

The extent of the damage in Augusta, so far as has been ascertained, is as follows:  Two tobacco warehouses, belonging to Dr. J. J. Bradford and Scott McKibbon, were thrown into the river.  Loss, $5,000.

The roof was blown off the saw mill of Messrs. Monehan & Lytle, and the building moved about four feet from its foundation.  Loss, $1,000.

A log house and cooper shop belonging to Mr. James Armor was blown down.  In the house was a family of four persons, who were found, piled together within an area of eight feet, none seriously injured.  Loss about $200.

The residence of John Dory was blown down the bank, and the roof and furniture went adrift.  In the house were two girls, one of whom was badly hurt.  Loss, $400.

The roof was blown off a house belonging to Wm. Figgins and J. Young.  Loss, $50.

The residence of Mr. J. J. Bradford was much injured, and the shrubbery destroyed.  Loss, $400.

The frame stable of Mr. James Armstrong was moved from its foundation ten feet.  Loss $150.

The gable-end of Mr. W. P. Daltz’s house was torn out, and crushed the office of Mr. Wm. Mackay in falling – loss $200.

The chimneys of J. Taylor Bradford’s dwelling were torn down, and his fruit trees and bee hives destroyed – loss $200.

On the Ohio side, Mr. Leech [sic, it's Lurch] owner of the ferry-house, was driving a team of two horses to a wagon; one of the horses became extricated from the harness; the other, together with the wagon, was blown a distance of one hundred yards.

We have not heard of further progress of the storm, but the devastation along its line must have been immense.  The tornado has far exceeded in fury anything of the kind ever before known in the section of the country where it occurred.


As printed in the New York Times of April 2, 1857.