Kiowa County Tornados
Outside as still as death–
And just as quiet too–
Gray clouds hung dark and close
And heavily on you.
Then suddenly a gust!
As hot as dragon's breath,
Before the heat is gone
An icy chill – like death –
A flash as keen and jagged
As from a rough edged sword.
Dark terror swooped then swirled,
Then into the earth it gored,
Destruction came to all
That stood within it's way.
It came to man or beast
And many a home that day
And awful chaos spread
As in the evil name –
Whirling – Stamping – Crashing –
So Stealthily it came!
----------Ethel Ballard Terry
Mrs. Terry's poem, "The Storm", won first prize in statewide competition
in 1950. Just as she finished reading it at the State Convention of
Federated Clubs in Oklahoma City, April 22, 1950, she received word
that a storm had struck at Hobart.
May in Oklahoma is the beginning of warm summer weather, and the normal
flip flops of turbulent weather. May, 1905, was such a time, bright
blue sky, hot sun, and the usual wind. In the southwest, a bank of dark
clouds loom on the horizon. Danger is heading for Kiowa County.
Old cattlemen, familiar with the Snyder area, knew this could happen.
The low lands lying southwest of Snyder, so it was claimed was a hot
bed for the formation of storms and this was the 3rd visit of such in
3 years. There is a gap in the range of the Wichita Mountains about
a half mile Southwest of town, and through this gap have come the storms.
This one formed 35 miles from town.
About 6:00, a black cloud could be seen in the southwest. Off to the
right, light harmless - looking formation of clouds hung in the sky,
milling, swirling, moving up and down for about a half hour, always
reaching out and gathering in more blue sky. Then, finally meeting the
dark and the darkness took over.
The dark clouds with a constant blaze of lightening was gathering southwest
of Snyder, but still giving no reason for concern to the people in it's
path. They noticed the clouds, but went on with evening choirs.
Then came the roar of the wind, louder and louder, the darkness grew,
the thunder sounded as if it came from the ground, not the sky. People
were aware of the approaching storm, a few thought it was a thunder
storm, not realizing one of the most devastating forms of nature was
bearing down on them, to end some lives and change others forever.
Without warning ------ about 9:00 in the evening, a black, twisting
devil dropped from the sky, death and destruction rained down on Snyder,
as this monster swept everything in it's path, a half mile wide, shredding
and killing, from the southwest corner of Snyder to the North east corner.
Some of the residents had dug cellars into the ground and barely had
time to reach them as this twisting monster roared toward them. Others
were caught as they tried to reach safety and met the monster of death
as did the ones caught in their homes.
Nothing was left to retrieve from those homes in the path of this tornado.
All the survivors had, was what they had on. Food and supplies were
gone. And they suffered from the cold of the night and the cold of the
terror they had just been through.
With all communications gone, there was no way to summon help, until
an operator was sent to Mountain Park to tap the wire and spread the
word. A special train and relief party of about 100 left Hobart about
1:30 AM and arrived about an hour later, including all doctors in town
and over a dozen nurses. A relief train was sent from Vernon, Texas
carrying doctors, surgeons and nurses to relive the doctors and nurses
that had worked through the night tending the wounded. Another relief
train left Hobart about 10:00 AM, carrying provisions, clothing and
other things to help the people in need.
Bodies of the victims were taken to an improvised morgue, a vacant building,
covered with mud, bruised and mangled almost beyond recognition, the
flesh of some almost stripped from their bodies. Old men, women, fathers,
mothers and children, without discrimination, this monster took. Some
were identified by friends or relatives and taken home to bury or given
to undertakers with no tags to identify. A complete list of the dead
will never be known.
Hobart contributed money and supplies and sent over 200 doctors, nurses,
surgeons and helpers to do whatever they could. Hobart ministers went
to help with the survivors and the dying. Governor Ferguson sent 100
tents, bedding, clothing and money. The Undertakers Association was
in session in Oklahoma City when word arrived. Sixteen, from all over
Oklahoma and one from Arkansas boarded a Special train to Snyder.
On May 12, 1905, there were 103 reported dead, although the full count
will never be known. Some of the dead were: The RALSTONE family, father,
mother, 2 children; FRANK JAMES family; HUGHES family; Mr. And Mrs.
BUSER; GEORGE W. BAILEY; FESSENDEN family, 11 members; Mrs. CAL WILLILAMSON;
Mr. And Mrs. McCART; PEARL HALEY; J. P. DONOVAN; three CROOKS children;
Mrs. EDWARDS; CLARENCE PAULSON, the CHARLES L. HIBBARD family, father, mother, two
of four children, and Mr. Hibbard's aged parents.
These articles appeared in the Area
Newspapers beginning May 12, 1905
The town of Luger was established in 1901 by an immigrant, Frank Lugert.
There were no roads, only trails, and the only form of transportation
was horseback and wagons. Panhandlers, escaped convicts and horse thieves
were visitors and customers at his store. His store and the town that
built around it at the foot of the Wichitas flourished.
The morning of April 27, 1912 was hot and sultry. Clouds began to gather
in the southwest. Heavy thunder rumbled amid the vivid flashes of lightening.
The noon train had just rolled into the north part of the Lugert yards.
Suddenly, there was a terrific clap of thunder and the winds began to
roar. A tornado hit with vicious fury and wiped the entire town of Lugert
off the map. In a very few minutes, there was deadly silence, no wind,
and the heavy rains stopped after dumping 12 inches of water.
When people emerged from their cellars, they found houses, businesses
and possessions gone. The force of the tornado had moved all the railroad
cars to the west, wrecking 8-10 and only a couple of cars and the caboose
remained on the tracks undamaged.
The town never re-built, people left and the town dwindled away. Before
the tornado hit, there were general stores, including Frank's, a brick
bank, lumber yard, pool hall, restaurant, and a population of 400-500.
All that is left of Lugert now are the memories, the town site buried
under the waters of Lake Altus. When the lake is low, some remnants
of the old town can be seen.
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