Archive for the ‘weather’ Category


“January” thaw

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Fort Dodge Messenger and Chronicle, Dec. 29, 1919

“January” thaw

It’s Wet Underfoot But a Raw Wind Makes Overcoat a Necessity.

The January thaw got here before January but whether or not it is a January thaw no one will have any doubts about the thawing part. The streets are running water and even the hardest chunks of dirty ice are being resolved into water under the combination of milder temperatures and sunshine.

But even with the thaw working overtime, there is a cold sharp wind which is felt every now and then and makes the day seem “rather raw, don’t you know?”

Everything seemed lined up for a good blizzard Sunday afternoon. The day was cloudy and not very cold. Fine sleet fell about noon and later this turned into a snow. The snow stopped, however, before the big banks of dirty snow which are a hang-over from the storms of several weeks ago, were completely covered over. The result was like that of a small boy who tries to wash himself and calls it a finish when he is white only in spots.

The Weather

Fair tonight and probably Tuesday, slightly colder tonight and northwest portion Tuesday.

Minimum temperature 32 above.


Lightning Strikes House

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Oct. 27, 1906

Lightning Strikes House.

Residence of Mrs. Lizzie Shields Suffers From Storm.

Without a warning of any kind, last night about 9 o’clock, a bolt of lightning fell from the sky, during the severe rain storm, and wrecked a rear chimney on the residence of Mrs. Lizzie Shields on south 5th avenue. The family was in the house at the time, and all escaped without injury or damage to the house, other than hurling the bricks of the chimney connected with the furnace, to the ground in the rear yard almost to the roof line.


Lightning Strikes St. Olaf’s Church

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Aug. 15, 1906

Lightning Strikes St. Olaf’s Church

The Tower on the Corner of the Edifice Wrecked and Splintered

Damage Amounts to $200

Happened About 5:00 O’clock This Morning During Electrical Storm — Work of Repairing Damaged Parts Will Commence at Once

About 5:00 o’clock this morning, during the severe electrical storm, St. Olaf Lutheran Church, on the corner of south First Avenue and Fourth Street, was struck by lightning doing considerable damage. None of the residences in the neighborhood were struck or damaged in any way, though those living near heard the crashing of the timbers and the falling bricks, and were greatly frightened by it.

The lightning struck the topmost metal ornament on the steeple, and following the slanting roofs down, wrecked the tower greatly. Large holes were torn in the sides, shingles and bricks being thrown to the street below.

The extent of the damage is not exactly known. It has been placed at about two hundred dollars ($5,032 today), as the whole tower will have to be rebuilt and strengthened again. The damage to the interior is not very great, the frescoing being left in a fair condition.

Lightning also struck the disused Minneapolis and St. Louis station, wrecking a chimney and slightly damaging a portion of the roof. the building is the property of Andrew Hower and is used by the Hower & Hoffman flour store for a storehouse. The contents of the building were not damaged.

(Editor’s note: In the 1898 directory, the Minneapolis & St. Louis depot is listed at 1010 Sixth St. S.)

(Editor’s note: The 1908 Fort Dodge city directory lists the church location as First Avenue South, southwest corner Fourth. It was called St. Olaf’s Norwegian Lutheran Church then. That building is currently the Coppin Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.)


People Try the “Slide For Life”

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 15, 1905

People Try the “Slide For Life”

Laughable Performances Enacted on Central Avenue This Morning.

Young and Old Participate

Slippery Condition of the Walks Produce Funny Athletic Stunts – Pedestrians Slide Scramble, Skate and Tumble – Take the Street.

It was a topsy-turvy world that mortals stepped out into this morning when they started for town, and as a usual thing the first stop landed the adventurous citizen in an upright position with his head on the walk. The impulse to turn flip flaps (sic) and hand springs was irressistable (sic) as everyone took a try at it with more or less success. It was shocking to see the utter lack of dignity that attended these athletic exhibitions. There was no one too old, too dignified, nor too corpulent to join in the sport. Even the ladies took a hand in the performance and it was nothing to see one of the most charming and modest of the shop girls attempting a succession of cart wheels as she made her way down Central avenue. There were many new ways of lighting, but one most favored seemed to be a graceful drop with the head and heels both in the air and an expression of horror on the face.

It required the entire attention of the femine (sic) portion of the crowd of morning foot passengers to prevent a most immodest display of the latest spring styles in hosiery. The banker on his way to his place of business played leap frog with the common laborer, and the heavy-weight merchant, usually a veritible (sic) ice berg of reserve did team stunts with the ragged man on  his way to beat Mrs. Jones’ carpet. The sedate and usually exact Mr. S—– skated spasmodically down the incline, to frantically and enthusiastically embrace the rotund form of the wife of B—-. There was an utter disregard for the proprieties in all the walks of life most terrible to contemplate, and it was all due to the fact that it had rained during the night.

The rain that fell in a fine mist throughout the hours of darkness, melted the snow from the walks in most places, and later the weather turning cold the brick and cement footways were covered with a coating of about the greasiest ice that ever was invented. It was next to impossible to stand up, to say nothing of walking. Rubbers were no protection whatever. The Spanish slide and the Cuban split were in vogue and nothing could prevent the people from attempting them.

It did not take them long to find out that the sidewalks were not intended to walk on, however, and they immediately got out in the street where the temptation to try the flying sommersault (sic) was not so alluring. Here they fell into the line of procession along with the hacks and dray teams that were plying up and down the avenue.

The merchants and property owners along Central avenue got out at about eight o’clock, however, and began the good work of scattering sand and sawdust on the walks, Their example was followed a little later by some of the good Christians out in the residence portion of Fort Dodge, and this did much to encourage progress.


Electricity Wins From Jack Frost

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 2, 1904

Electricity Wins From Jack Frost

Thawing Water Connections by Electricity Just Now of Great Benefit.

The Method is Very Simple

Many Water Connections Frozen Now Being Thawed Out in This Way.

Electricity has gained another victory. This time it is over Jack Frost and is bound to be especially beneficial to plumbers and the city water works employes (sic) who have received many calls during the past two months to thaw out frozen water connections. The old method of digging thru several feet of ground to the water pipes has given away to a more modern method in which electricity is the main factor. Thirty minutes is about the average time necessary to thaw out water pipes in the new way, while by the old method it took from several days to a week.

Forcing a passage through the frozen pipes by the use of electricity, now that it has been tried is a simple matter. All that is necessary is to form a circuit with the water pipes as a part thru which water is carried from the main in the street into the building. The current is then turned on. The wire, the water plug and the water pipe leading from the plug to the service pipe forms the circuit, which becomes heated and readily thaws the ice.

The current is carried thru the metal pipes, while the water itself also helps in carrying it.

This method has been found of great benefit especially since the present winter has been much harder than the usual winter, particularly in freezing water pipes. It is also considered of value because it is no longer necessary to make an excavation to the house connection when the frost has penetrated into the ground much deeper than in many years. Its usefulness can be seen when it is known that in may (sic) instances where excavations have had to be made for the purpose of thawing out pipes a week has been required. By the new method about thirty minutes is required and there is practically no disturbance, the current being turned on and off and the pipes left open and in good condition.

(Editor’s note: I am no plumber, but this whole thing sounds like a public service announcement for “don’t try this at home.”)


Ice Gorge on The Upper River

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Feb. 23, 1906

Ice Gorge on The Upper River

Big Mass of Ice Gorges Between County and Illinois Central Bridges.

Some apprehension is felt through the city this afternoon regarding a big ice gorge which has formed on the upper Des Moines, a short distance above the Lizzard (sic) creek. The great mass of ice chokes the passage of the channel entirely between the county and Illinois Central bridges, and water is slowly rising.

The river is breaking at the mouth of the Lizzard and it is thought that the breakup will extend to the gorge and loosen its hold in a short time. For this reason conditions are in no way alarming. The only damage that can result would be to the bridges, and both of these are firmly constructed. The water has risen about a foot during the last twelve hours.


Snow Shoveling

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Feb. 8, 1907

Snow Shoveling

It is a noticeable fact that those living near the outskirts of the city are nearly always the first to get the snow removed from their sidewalks. Out in the suburbs they rise early and make paths, then they have the pleasure of wading to the center of town through snow which is not being removed by the slower residents.

A member of the fire department suggests that it would be a good plan for property owners having fire plugs near their homes to clear the snow away from about them, so that the hose could be attached without loss of time in case of need. A winter fire sometimes does great damage and the man who cleans the snow away from the hydrant may be preparing a means of saving greater loss to himself.

In almost every part of town there is a big piece of vacant ground, in front of  which the walk is never cleared except when the city department gets busy. Owing to no house being on the lots snow shoveling is not looked after by the owner. Such stretches are always dreaded by the man, woman or boy who must take that route to and from town.

The man who clears his sidewalk promptly and looks to sprinkling ashes when it is icy is always blessed by pedestrians who travel his way. If even a path is cleared it is a big help. More hardship than is realized is endured by working girls and boys who go to town early in the morning and walk nearly all the way through the drifts. A sigh of relief is always breathed when a fine, clear, space is reached.


The Plumber Reaped Shekels

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Jan. 26, 1904

The Plumber Reaped Shekels

The Cold Weather Was a Snap For Him.

Bursted (sic) Water Pipes and Meters Were Frequent During Sunday and Monday.

The cold weather did not confine its effects wholly to people’s coal bins and their ears and noses but the frost king made his way into the cellars and played havoc with many of the water pipes so that the ice and coal men are not the only ones who are wearing broad smiles, but the plumber has reason to be happy as well.

During Sunday and Monday, the number of bursted water pipes reported was amazing as nearly eevry (sic) house in town was visited by some trouble. The plumbers were compelled to work Sunday, the same as any other day, thawing out and repairing broken water pipes due largely to the negligence of some people in forgetting to turn the water off below the frost line; but in many cases this was done and still they were victims of the intense cold.

Many people took the precaution to shut off the water in the cellar and drain the pipes and pack the exposed parts, thus escaping hte inconvenience of frozen water works.

There were eight bursted water pipes reported on Monday and seven reported today.


Hard Work For Railroad Boys

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Jan. 8, 1903

Hard Work For Railroad Boys

Operating Trains in Heavy Winds is Not Child’s Play

Must Endure Hardships

Storm of Tuesday Night Said by Railroad Men to Be One of the Worst on Record.

The severe weather during the past few days and nights had made the lot of  a railroad man one not to be envied. Trainmen say that Tuesay night’s storm was one or (sic) the severest on record. The wind was terrific and running a train in such a gale is almost as hard as navigating a ship on a storm tossed sea. It costs much more to operate a train in stormy weather, as the tonnage must be greatly reduced. On Tuesday night the tonnage was reduced from 25 to 33 per cent on many trains and even then few trains were able to arrive on time. Telegraph communication is usually bad in such storm weather and this also adds to the railroad man’s woes.

Hurrying along the top of a slippery box car is a dangerous as well as unpleasant job, yet this work must be done by the trainmen, rain or shine. Running an engine when the wind is blowing forty miles and with a blinding snow storm in his face is something that engineers do these days.

The lot of the railroad boys at times such as this is not to be envied, and the men who work uncomplainingly under the most unfavorable conditions to bring their trains in on time, or as nearly so as possible, are entitled to the credit justly due them for their brave ght (sic – should be fight?) against odds.


23 Below Zero and No Fire Protection

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: Jan. 4, 1904

23 Below Zero and No Fire Protection

Lamentable Condition of Affairs Brought to Light by Fire Saturday Night.

Building Burns to Ground

Because There is no Pressure to Aid Firemen in Fighting Flames.

One-fourth City in Peril

Saturday Night When Residence S.W. Corey Totally Destroyed.

With the thermometer registering twenty-three degrees below zero and with practically no water pressure, Fort Dodge was visited by a fire at midnight Saturday that in many respects was of a nature unprecedented in the history of the city. The total destruction of the home of C.W. Cory at 209 Twelfth street south is credited to a combination of circumstances, which is claimed by the persons upon whose shoulders rests the property against the ravages of fire to have been impossible to forsee or prevent.

The Corey residence was totally destroyed. The house was reduced to a heap of charred timbers and fallen walls covered with several inches of ice entailing a loss of nearly $5,000 ($119,747 today) not a cent of which is covered by insurance. How the fire found its origin is unknown. The fire department was summoned to the scene a few minutes before 9 o’clock in the evening. At taht time fire was discovered in a small pantry room on the northeast corner of the house in a wing with adjoins the main body of the structure. The flames were soon extinguished, or apparently so, and the firemen remained at the house for nearly two hours to assure themselves that the fire was out. At 12:10 a.m. the department was again on the scene, having been called by a second alarm in a half hour after their departure. This time the blaze was on the opposite side of the house, diagonally from the first fire. There was not water pressure and the firemen were unable to even check the flames. The fire burned itself out several hours later, leaving a mass of smoking embers where was a short time before was a well built residence.

Startling Conditions Revealed.

The unusual nature of the fire is to be found in several facts which cannot be disputed. In the first place there was no water pressure and in the second while not intentionally, the firemen were apparently unfortunate, failing to extinguish the fire on their first visit to the house. The third circumstance is a fortunate one. The night altho bitterly cold was without wind, and in this way lessened the danger of a more serious conflagration. With conditions prevailing as Saturday night more than one-fourth the city was without fire protection. Had there been a wind sufficient to carry the burning embers to the nearby houses the seriousness of what might have happened cannot be estimated.

W.L. Pray, water superintendent, credtis the conditions of Saturday night to a combination of circumstances. “I was never so beat in all my life,” he said today when speaking of the fire. “It was a combination of circumstances which could not be neither foreseen nor prevented.”

Friction in the water pipes and the supply of one-fourth of the city thru a single six-inch main is given by Superintendent Pray as a reason why there was not a better water pressure. He explains the conditions in substance as follows:

All consumers of city water south of Central avenue and east of Twelfth street are supplied by a single six inch main running east on First avenue south. This main supplies all the consumers in that part of the city together with the Great Western railroad company and seven flush tanks. The first mishap incident to the fire Saturday night was when the firemen attempted to connect the hose with a water hydrant on the corner of Thirteenth street and Third avenue south. In attempting to turn on the water they broke off the stem to which is attached the crank. In this way, rendering the hydrant useless. As a last resort Superintendent Pray attempted to close the valves at hte corner of First avenue south and Thirteenth street and at the corner of First avenue south and Seventeenth street. Had he been able to do this he could have shut off the water supply from the entire southeast part of the the (sic) city and concentrated the entire force on the fire. The steel covers of the manholes, however, were securely frozen in the ground and defied all efforts to be opened. Under these conditions of affairs there was nothing to do but let the fire burn itself out. Of the several lines of hose carrying water to the fire one had sufficient pressure to throw the water thirty feet, but even then it was lacking in power to break even a thin pane of glass. Under favorable conditions the proximity of the water tower to the scene of the fire would have been beneficial than otherwise.

“The only reason I can see for fire breaking out a second time is that there must have been some fire there after we left,” says Chief J.V. Lowry.

“After putting out the fire when we were first called we made a thorough search of the entire house before leaving,” said Chief Lowry yesterday. “We couldn’t find the least trace of a blaze and left, satisfied that the fire was out. Mr. Corey went with us thru every room in the house and he too was satisfied.”

When seen relative to the fire, C.S. Corey, whose property suffered said:

The city is responsible for this. There was no water pressure for one thing and for another the firemen should have seen that the fire was out before leaving.”

The first alarm was sent in shortly before 9 o’clock in the evening. The house is occupied by C.W. Corey and family and Mr. and Mrs. Louis O’Day, the latter living in five rooms on the second floor in front of the house. Just how the fire started is unknown. There was no one on the first floor at the time and so far as can be learned no lamp was lighted and the nearest stove was ten feet away and in another room. The building consisted of the main structure and a wing, the former facing west on Twelfth street and the latter facing east. The The (sic) fire was first discovered by Mr. O’Day. He had scented smoke and going down stairs went into the kitchen on the southwest corner of the wing. Finding no fire there he opened the door leading into the pantry and was driven back by the flames.

At the arrival of the fire department no difficulty was experienced in extinguishing the flames after which the firemen went thru the house in an endeavor to locate if possible sparks or embers that might cause the fire to break out anew. Failing to find anything of this nature they returned to their quarters only to be recalled in a half hour.

Not a Cent of Insurance.

The first fire did but comparatively little damage and only that by smoke and water. Most of the furnishings were removed from the house at this time. The loss in household goods sustained by Mr. Corey is estimated to be between $200 ($4,790) and $300 ($7,185), and to Mr. and Mrs. O’Day, who occupied the upstairs room about $100 ($2,395). Mr. Corey estimated the loss on the house to be over $4,000 ($95,798). Mr. Corey suffered the loss of a grist mill by fire some time ago. As in this case, he carried no insurance. Mr. O’Day said yesterday that it was his intention to take out insurance January 1, but unfortunately he delayed doing so a lay (sic) too long.

Fire on Opposite Side.

Responding to the second alarm, the firemen found the flames to have broken out on the south side of the house in the kitchen. It is thought that fire, which the firemen failed to locate, burned between the walls and finding its way to the opposite side of the building was fanned by a draught until it had gained sufficient headway to burst through the roof. After the firemen left at 11:30 a policeman was left to watch for a second fire. When he discovered the blaze he had to go several blocks before turning in the alarm. By the time the department was on the ground a second time, the fire was burning fiercely in the kitchen and through the roof. Water was turned on as soon as possible, but only a pitiful little stream issued from the nozzle. Ladders were run to the roof ot he wing, and upon a porch on the south side of the house, where the fireman vainly attempted to throw enough water on the blaze to prevent its eating its way toward the front of the house. The flames however were so fierce and the water supply so inadequate that the firemen were driven from their position and forced to the ground and the front of the house. All efforts, however, were unavailing and the men, covered from head to foot with ice, found themselves able only to throw water on the nearby houses. An attempt was made to throw water upon the roof of the Silas Corey house to the porch, but the pressure was too weak. Good fortune along prevented the fire from communicating to the gable of the house, which was only a short distance from where flames were the hottest.

Brave Cold to See Fire.

Several hundred people watched the fire in the early hours of the morning, and although the thermometer was 20 degrees below ezro (sic), they braved the elements. The fire could be seen many blocks away. With scarcely a trace of wind, a column of smoke fifty feet in diameter arose from the burning buidling, and after emerging from the shadows of the trees into the clear moonlight, it ascended many feet intot he air as a might white pillar.

The crowd which gathered at the fire was not lacking in criticism, and had the usual large amount of advice to give to the firemen as to what they should and what they should not do. The unconcealed comments of some persons in the crowd caused several of the firemen to lose their tempers, and on one or two occasions they treated the crowd to a shower bath.

Several cases of frozen feet and frost-bitten ears are reported as a result of witnessing the fire.

(Editor’s note: I chose to include the article below in this post because it is related to the issue of the fire.)

The Fort Dodge Messenger: Jan. 4, 1904

Coldest Weather of Winter

Thermometer Registers 23 Below Saturday Night.

Eight Degrees Colder Than at Any Time Previous This Winter – Warmer Sunday.

Saturday night was the coldest of the winter. The government thermometer at Tobin college Sunday mornign showed that the lowest point registered during the night was 23 degrees below zero. The maximum temperature for the same twenty-four hours was 8 degrees above.

The lowest temperature for the twenty-four hours ending at 7 o’clock this morning was two degrees above, while the thermometer showed the maximum temperature to be 8 degrees above. A comparison of the figures shows that during the twenty-four hours ending at 7 a.m. today, the thermometer varied only 6 degrees while during the same period of the preceding day there was a deviation of 25 degrees.

Up to Saturday night the coldest weather of the winter was registered December 13, when the thermometer shows 15 below. The third coldest was December 26, with 11 below.