Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/277

This page has been validated.

and broken. Leaving this, the cyclone fell into a meadow, then rose, and, after a course of a few hundred yards, it descended upon an elevated section of forest. Here, about the middle of its course, the destruction was most apparent, in the way of uprooted and broken timber; and so unconformable was the lay of the prostrate trees, as to defy all the ordinary theories of cyclones.

But this spot afforded clear evidence of the successive ascent and descent of the whirling current as it swept along; for the trees where it entered the forest had only their tops and upper limbs twisted and mutilated, a series of whole trees uprooted following in the path, while again the destruction was confined to the top at the place where the storm left the woods.

The next remarkable object was a corn-field, in which the damage was conspicuous. The stalks were stripped and some blown out of the ground. The earth looked as if scraped by some hard substance. A tenant-house was nest on or near the route, but the damage was slight; a shutter was blown away, only pieces of which could be found. A bed in this house was blown against the window. Farther on, a stable was partly unroofed, and a corn-house lifted up from the piers that supported it, transported a few feet, and so gently deposited that a full hogshead of wheat uncovered was let down without spilling more than a few grains. The alarmed owner found himself unable to open the door of his house. Thus far the force of the storm had been directed only against trees of the forest; it now struck the orchards of two adjoining farms, leaving sixteen fine apple-trees prostrate.

In one of these, the trees were strewed on the ground almost in the direction of the spokes of a wheel. For the next half mile very little damage was done, the path being marked by a few broken limbs of trees. But the storm came down once more, and uprooted a number of large trees, quite in a valley.

Its violence was now exhausted; we followed the path with some difficulty half a mile farther, and then no more traces of it were to be found.

The cyclone, after a course of about five miles, ascended and dissolved away into the upper air. No part of the phenomenon was more clearly indicated than this alternate descent and rise of the whirling column as it moved along. This was manifest not only from observation of the objects on the route, but was plainly seen by persons who watched the current from neighboring hills. Filled with dust and leaves and boughs of trees, and distinctly colored, the contiguous separate whirls formed a spectacle of terrible grandeur as seen from elevated points at a distance. There were slight occasional zig-zags in the route, but for the most part it was remarkably direct, with a course bearing about ten degrees east of north, and a width varying from thirty to seventy yards.

In regard to the velocity of the current, no precise estimate can be made. The nearest approach to it would be to say that the course of five miles appears to have been accomplished in about five minutes.

Two facts afford some indication as to the dimension of the whirls that were continually forming and changing in the progress of the cyclone. In the case of the orchard-trees, described as lying somewhat in the form of spokes of a wheel, the diameter of the whirl must have been about thirteen yards, while in the graveyard it could not have exceeded ten feet.

Some persons heard, during its progress, what they liken to explosions. Some also heard a noise resembling the roar of a rail-road train, before it began its course below.

Immense cumuli clouds were piled up over the storm-clouds, their brightness contrasting strongly with the black and threatening appearance of the latter.

William Henry Farquhar.
Henry C. Hallowell.
Rockland Sandy Springs, Maryland,
March 24, 1880.



SIR JOSIAH MASON, the founder of a new Science College, in Birmingham, England, is an old gentleman of eighty-six who has considerable reputation as a rich philanthropist. He amassed an immense fortune by the manufacture of a steel pen of famous reputation and by the business of electro-plating. He spent large sums in establishing hospitals, asylums, and alms-houses, and endowing them for the benefit of deserving persons in want; and, among other public charities, he built and endowed an orphanage capable of receiving, educating, feeding, and clothing five hundred orphan children