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More on the devastating 1915 Hanover, Pa. tornado

Derailed Hanover Trolley
Derailed Hanover Trolley

Here are a few more of the details of the aftermath of the August 21, 1915 Hanover tornado that I described in my previous post.

The newspaper accounts list hundreds of instances of damage. The newspapers also say that none of the churches held services the next day, Sunday, because everyone was busy digging out. It is also reported that services of Thanksgiving were held the next Sunday. No wonder, when you read of the destruction and then the reports of fairly minor injuries, and not too many of those.

The Stock Street-Frederick Street trolley above is probably the one in which little Marie Hildebrand was riding with her father, Conductor Monroe Hildebrand, when it was blown off its tracks, and Marie was blown, unhurt, to the street.

Dr. F.F. Shue’s Veterinary Hospital, rear of Baltimore St. had a fallen-in roof, cracked walls, his auto was damaged and bulk drugs destroyed, but he said he would remain in the building and be ready for business on Monday.

Cars parked along the streets sustained damage, but even though the walls and roof of Adams Garage was shattered, no cars were damaged.

Most horses were stabled for the evening. J.H. Sell had two stables at the rear of Frederick Street. Both had roof damage, doors and windows broken, but with no harm to the horses.
Tom Brown had left his horse and wagon at Newman’s livery stable. It was buried under four feet of debris; the wagon was wrecked, but the horse was fine.

One of most miraculous escapes was said to be that of Chester Wentz, B. M. Frey and Mrs. Bowman in Wentz Brothers & Frey department store, who were saved when the metal ceiling was caught by shelving, protecting them from the falling roof.

J.W. Gitt’s department store had windows broken, the south side of building bulging inward, holes in wall and the roof partly torn off. A plank came through windows, but there was no damage reported to shoppers, clerks or stock.

G.N. Gitt’s residence was beside his picture show hall, which was filled with people when the ceiling started to cave in with debris from the Wentz Brothers and Frey store. Gitt had a nice roof garden, also badly damaged from the neighbors’ debris.

Hanover Glove Factory’s damage was estimated at $18,000 in stock and $7,000 to the building, which lost the second and third floors. They were reported to have $73,000 worth of insurance, but no cyclone (tornado) insurance

A large tree from the oval was pulled up by the roots, and just missed William Young, parcel post carrier, trying to escape in his “machine.”

At Hotel O’Bold, the mansard roof was whipped from building, and porches and balconies were partly demolished, causing $8,000-$10,000 damage and creating near panic among the many people crowded inside seeking shelter.

The Wege property and bake shop at 108-110 Baltimore St. had the gable end smashed by a neighboring roof and the bake shop unroofed to the tune of $1,000 in damages.

There was terror at the telephone exchange: Miss Effie Kineman and Miss Ruth Stahl, operators, and Claude Anthony, wire chief, were plunged into darkness, with flying glass and debris. “Suddenly the entire switch board was surrounded by a flash of flame caused by crossed wires.” Anthony cut the wires, saving the switchboard and building. Bricks flew through the side windows from neighboring glove factory, but the intrepid telephone girls stayed until their shift was over in the morning, even though service was out.

Two young men running up Broadway to get out of the storm miraculously escaped harm by three feet when a large granite “acorn-shaped” ornament from the Tanger building cornice, denting the concrete. The Tanger building still stands on the southwest corner where Broadway meets York and Railroad streets. It is the brick building with the large arched upper-story window. J. C. Tanger and Son Hardware is still clearly visible painted on the side of the building. Looking at the street view image on Google maps, it seems like there are three large stone “acorn shaped ornaments” still on the front roofline, with a fourth one missing.

For more on the 1915 Hanover tornado see Cyclone: A Pictorial History of the 1915 Hanover Tornado, compiled and published by Mary Kelly Mills, Harold E. Colestock, Wendy Bish and John McGrew. It can be consulted at the Pennsylvania Room, Hanover Public Library and at the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives.