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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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History of Sheboygan County


TORNADO OF 1873.

     The most severe tornado which ever visited this region swept over Sheboygan County on the 4th of July, 1873. A dense fog prevailed, accompanied with a chilly wind from the lake. About 11 o'clock in the forenoon, a violent storm of wind and rain, accompanied by terrific lightning and thunder arose and raged with fearful force for the space of twenty minutes before its power began to wane. Short as the time was, it was long enough to cause much damage in the destruction of trees, the overthrow and unroofing of houses, the prostration of growing crops and in many other ways. In the city of Sheboygan, trees fifteen or sixteen inches in diameter were snapped off like reeds, and a large number were prostrated to the ground, oftentimes doing damage to houses, fruit trees and fences in their fall. Numerous chimneys were thrown down, and injuries done to dwellings by their fall in several cases. Turner Hall and the Court house as well as private residences suffered from this cause. Tin roofs were rolled up or torn entirely off. The smoke stacks of the two chair factories, Freyberg's mill, Bertschey's elevator, Vollrath & Co.'s steel foundry. Look, Waechter & Co.'s box factory. and Zschetsche & Heyer's tannery were blown down. About one-third of the roof of the latter building was carried away with a quantity of bark. The roof of the large Empire tannery was raised over a foot in height and dropped down without further damage. The frames for two dwelling houses on Niagara street were prostrated, and the engine house of the Lake Shore Railroad was laid flat. The sails of several vessels in the harbor were torn to shreds, even when closely furled. Vessels were torn from their moorings and three were driven against the Eighth street bridge, one of them moving the south end several feet from its position and necessitating repairs. In one instance a two-inch oak plank, fourteen feet long was taken up by the wind and thrust through the side of a box car. The roofs of the buildings belonging to the Sheboygan Manufacturing Company's chair works were stripped clean of their gravel and cement covering. Whole piles of lumber were sent flying. The aggregate loss in the city was considerable, but fortunately the injury to life was limited to the breaking of a woman's arm, in the Third Ward from the falling of a Shop on the premises. Outside of the city, several buildings were blown down on Judge Taylor's farm, as were most of the barns along the gravel road to Sheboygan Falls. Sixteen buildings were reported blown down or unroofed on the Fond du Lac road before reaching Plymouth. Forty-two barns are said to have suffered from the hurricane in the town of Rhine. At Elkhart Lake and at Howard's Grove, several buildings were blown down, including three dwellings. At Plymouth, buildings were unroofed, and a Maple Grove laid low. AItogether, it was such a celebration of the national anniversary by the elements as this section does not care to witness again.

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