1886 Sauk Rapids tornado

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1886 Sauk Rapids Tornado
The Sauk Rapids courthouse in ruins
The Sauk Rapids courthouse in ruins
Date April 14, 1886
Time 4:00 p.m. CST
Rating F4 tornado
Damages $400,000
Casualties 72 fatalities, more than 200 injuries
Area affected Central Minnesota, United States

The 1886 Sauk Rapids Tornado was a tornado that tore through the cities of Sauk Rapids, St. Cloud, and Rice, Minnesota on April 14, 1886. It destroyed much of the town of Sauk Rapids and killed 72 people along its path. It is Minnesota's deadliest tornado on record. Other tornadoes on this day occurred in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas suggesting the possibility of a large outbreak.


Destruction in Sauk Rapids after the tornado

At 4:00 p.m. a tornado of approximately F4 intensity cut through the heart of Sauk Rapids. It was one of at least four tornadoes that affected the region between 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. that day. It had a maximum width of 1/2 mile (0.8 km) and was on the ground for 14 miles (22 km).[1] As the storm moved across the Mississippi River it temporarily sucked it dry.[1] Some of the structures the tornado destroyed included an iron truss bridge spanning the Mississippi River, the post office, courthouse, a flour mill, a school, and two churches.[1] Fifteen rail cars were demolished, and iron rails from the train track were pulled up and mangled.[2] After it passed through Sauk Rapids it moved on to Rice where it killed 11 people in a wedding party when the home they were in was destroyed. In all, 72 people were killed by the twister, including 38 in Sauk Rapids and 20 in St. Cloud. Over 200 more were injured.
It was dangerous

Relief efforts[edit]

St. Benedict's Hospital in St. Cloud, which had been spared by the tornado, became the center of relief efforts following the destruction. The Benedictine nuns who operated the hospital worked 48 hours straight until aid arrived from nearby towns and Minneapolis and St. Paul. Over 50 patients were taken to St. Mary's school and convent in nearby St. Joseph where the teaching sisters served as nurses.[3]


Before this tornado, Sauk Rapids was considered one of the most important towns in Minnesota and a business center of central Minnesota.[4][5] It was a blossoming community located on the Mississippi River in Central Minnesota. However the tornado changed the economic structure of the entire area after it destroyed at least 109 commercial or public buildings in Sauk Rapids alone, including every business on main street, causing over $400,000 (1886 dollars) in damages. Today, this would mean more than 40,000,000 US dollars.[5][6] After the tornado, St. Cloud became the dominant business center in the region.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Seeley, Mark W. (2006). Minnesota Weather Almanac. Minnesota Historical Society press. ISBN 0-87351-554-4. 
  2. ^ "Monthly Weather Review" (PDF). National Weather Service. April 1886. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  3. ^ Dominik, John J. (1986). That You May Find Healing. St. Cloud, Minn: St. Cloud Hospital. p. 8. 
  4. ^ "Sauk Rapids History". City of Sauk Rapids. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  5. ^ a b "Communities In Crisis". Stearns County History Museum. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  6. ^ "APRIL IN THE UPPER MIDWEST". Intellicast.com. Archived from the original on 20 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 

External links[edit]