Twister strikes Canoe & Highland in June 1906

On the night of Wednesday, June 6, 1906, a tornado ripped across Winneshiek and Houston counties, and extended its range of destruction into La Crosse and western Wisconsin. Two were killed near Caledonia. A spate of storms causing unprecedented damage occurred across the upper Midwest that week. Reprinted below is a report on local damage in Canoe and Highland townships. 

Estimating the path from news accounts, the tornado began in Canoe sections 9, 4 and 3, it then nicked the southeast corner of Hesper township, and proceeded to the northeast across Highland sections 30, 20, 16 and 10 and up into Minnesota, for which I found no detailed account. It must have passed just a hair southeast of Highland Church. 

Semi Weekly Reporter, Tuesday, June 19, 1906, Waterloo, Iowa




Heavy Damage Done In Its Path and Marvelous Manifestations Left Behind.

Decorah Republican: Our Canoe correspondent tells of the damage done by the cyclone last Wednesday in this wire:

It started in Peter Peterson’s cornfield and some who saw it from a distance thought it was smoke. Going northeast, when it reached Ole Danielson’s it was about the size of a water tank at its lower point. At Halvor Aaby’s it took the roof and all the logs but two above the chamber floor and everything upstairs except a bedspring and mattress. On one side the roof was twisted into hundreds of pieces, but the other side is not quite so badly demolished. It also unroofed the barn, broke up buggies and machinery and twisted off trees a foot and a half in diameter. One big basswood was grubbed out and where it stood is a hole the shape of a cistern and deep enough so the bottom can’t be seen. It must be very deep as it is only a rod and a half from the creek and ought to have been filled by the heavy rain that followed.

Peter Johnson’s was next in the storm’s path. The barn was demolished and the house moved. This was duplicated at Will Soeder’s. The roof of John Koppen’s barn was blown off, as was also that at D. T. Manning’s. The last we heard of it was four miles north of Locust, where a barn 80 feet long was demolished. The only personal injury reported hereabout was sustained by Halvor Aaby’s little boy, whose head and face were bruised, and Mrs. Aaby, who was thrown down and injured while trying to help the boy get a team into the barn. She is also suffering from nervous shock.

The Devastation in Highland.

Our Highlandville correspondent takes up the story where our Canoe correspondent leaves off and tells of the damage done in Highland as follows:

The storm that passed west and north of here last Wednesday was the worst this section has ever experienced. Starting southwest of Locust, it struck a barn on the Manning farm and demolished it completely. It next struck John Koppen’s place and wrecked his barn, and next the barn on the Iverson place, also windmills on all three of these farms. At Chris Lien’s a hog house was wrecked.

Kittle Severson and Mrs. Carrie Luros had summer kitchens, barns and windmills demolished, and part of Mr. Severson’s house was wrecked. Windmills at Gullick Kittleson’s, Mrs. E. Vinge’s and Mrs. Jacob Fadness’ were carried away.

At the Granville Fawcett farm where Eldine Eilingson lives, two large barns the granary, machine shed and windmill were directly in the storm’s path and were carried away. Buggies and wagons were smashed and grain was scattered all over the place. J. O. Kroshus, who was on his way home from Mabel, took refuge in the buggy shed to escape the rain, and his buggy was demolished and he thrown down and rendered unconscious. His horse ran home, a distance of about a mile.

Andrew Bersie’s corn crib was destroyed and a new hay shed at Lewis Larson’s was leveled to the ground. At Nels Larson’s the granary and machine sheds were wrecked and the debris deposited on the front porch, while all the windows on one side of the house were taken out.

The storm seemed to reach its height in this county at the farm of Edward Thorson Selness, as here the most damage was done. His residence, a fine brick structure with modern conveniences, was stripped to the second story floor and the entire east wall blown down. His son Albert, a young man about twenty-five years old, was upstairs when the storm struck the house, and he was carried about three rods, sustaining such serious injuries that it was feared he would die. All the other buildings—two large barns, sheds, corn cribs and windmill were razed to the ground.

The cyclone continued on In a northeasterly direction, but did no more serious damage until it reached a point about a half a mile into Minnesota, where It wrecked barns at Erick Larson’s, Ole Helgeson’s and Theo. Kroshus’, and also tore the roof from the latter’s house.

Your correspondent has been unable to ascertain what estimates are placed on the losses in total, but the largest ones in this neighborhood are conservatively stated as follows: E. T. Selness, $10,000; G. Fawcett, Carrie Luros and Kittle Severson, $3,000 each; Nels Larson, $800; Lewis Larson, $300. This does not take in the damage done in Canoe nor the fences and timber destroyed in the path of the storm, and these are not small items by any means.

From the Selness place it went on across the line, doing, it is reported, severe damage and causing deaths near Caledonia; but of this we have no special reports. It was also heard of over in Wisconsin.

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