A Terrifying, Deadly Storm Struck Montana In 1923 And No One Saw It Coming
Tornadoes are a phenomenon that’s typically associated with the Midwest, though they can occur anywhere—and they have certainly struck some surprising places, including Montana. Most of us will recall the deadly tornado of 2010 that unfortunately killed two people and injured a few more when it hit the Smith Ranch in Northeast Montana. But before that happened, we had the deadly tornado of 1923… and it was something no one saw coming.
On a Sunday in June in 1923, a tornado struck a logging camp in the Nine Mile Valley west of Missoula.
It was a day off for the lumbermen in Camp Number 3 of the Anaconda Copper Mining Co.’s logging operations.
Olaf Hoagland was washing his clothes about 400 feet from the camp buildings, enjoying the company of his friend, E.V. Johnson, who was visiting.
When the tornado hit, they had no time to run to shelter.
Four trees were uprooted, one of which pinned Olaf and E.V to the ground.
They were killed instantly. They never knew what hit them.
Since the storm had the same funnel-shaped appearance of a tornado, it was labeled as such.
It is said to be the first recorded documentation of a tornado in Western Montana. There have been other documented cases of prior tornadoes in Montana dating back to 1883, but none that far west, and none that deadly.
Until July 26, 2010, that was the deadliest tornado-related storm in Montana.
The 2010 tornado had 150 mph winds that killed a 46-year-old man and a 10-year-old boy.
The vast majority of tornadoes that hit Montana are small and strike the open plains, but clearly we are not immune to twisters here.
Weather can happen anywhere at any time, whatever the terrain may be.
It’s fascinating to look back on Montana history, even the unfortunate parts. Here are
10 facts about the Treasure State not many people know.
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