Saturday, April 9, 2016



Great Damage to Property

RALEIGH, N.C., May 3, [1896]. -- At 4 o'clock this afternoon the citizens of Oxford, [Granville County], a town about forty miles from this city on the Oxford and Clarksville [VA] Railroad, observed a heavy black cloud approaching from the southwest. The weather has been wet and blustery for three days. The cloud became blacker and denser, and just before 5 o'clock a roar was heard and all at once wind, rain, and hail dashed over the town.
The wind was terrific. Houses were blown down, trees were torn up by the roots, and the hailstones were much larger than usual and covered the ground to a depth of four inches and broke almost all the window panes in the town. The rain fell in sheets and torrents, so that the darkness was complete. The terrible rush of wind did not last longer than fifteen minutes, but the rain and hail continued for a much longer period.
It was soon ascertained that great damage to property had been done, and people who ventured out into the darkness, surrounded by the debris of houses, trees, fences, telegraph poles, and tin from the housetops. About 6 o'clock the rain and hail ceased, and there was a rift in the clouds, and the disaster could be seen.
The storm had swept from southeast to northeast across the town, leaving a mark about 400 yards wide. In this space the frame houses had suffered most. A number were blown down and the timbers blown away. The brick houses were unroofed.
A number of people are known to have been injured, one colored man fatally. The damage to property is estimated at $200,000. The track of the storm was from Oxford to Henderson, [Vance County], on the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, and from there, north, down the railroad to Greystone [Vance County]. The distance from Oxford to Henderson is twelve miles, and the swath cut was from a quarter to half a mile wide. It presents the appearance of having been burned and swept. The trees have been torn up and the limbs blown off the trunks, and the pathway looks like a road that has been cleared of stumps and everything else.
The town of Henderson had the same experience as Oxford. Ten people are known to have been injured, four seriously. Greystone is a small railroad station. All the houses were blown down. There is a granite quarry there, and a squad of convicts have been worked. Three-quarters of the log houses were razed to the ground. A number of convicts were hurt.
It is learned that there was a second blow, but it knocked down the poles and wires, and no further news can be had to-night. There must have been another current of wind, because at sundown in this city the clouds had disappeared and the heavens appeared to be filled with leaves, and it was remarked that there had been a cyclone somewhere not very far distant. The blew a gale here, but did no damage.

[From a May 4, 1893 article in the New York Times.
The story is posted at the North Carolina Railroads website at:]

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