1935 Labor Day hurricane

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"Labor Day storm" redirects here. For the storm that hit Syracuse, New York in 1998, see New York State Labor Day Derechos.
Labor Day Hurricane of 1935
Category 5 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Labor Day hurricane 1935-09-04 weather map.gif
Weather Bureau surface weather map of the hurricane moving up the west coast of Florida
Formed August 29, 1935
Dissipated September 10, 1935
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 185 mph (295 km/h)
Lowest pressure 892 mbar (hPa); 26.34 inHg
Fatalities 408–600 direct
Damage $6 million (1935 USD)
Areas affected Bahamas, Florida Keys, Big Bend, Florida Panhandle, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia
Part of the 1935 Atlantic hurricane season

The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane was the strongest and most intense hurricane to make landfall in the United States and the Atlantic Basin in recorded history. The second tropical cyclone, second hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 1935 Atlantic hurricane season, the Labor Day Hurricane was the first of three Category 5 hurricanes at landfall that the United States endured during the 20th Century (the other two being 1969's Hurricane Camille and 1992's Hurricane Andrew). After forming as a weak tropical storm east of the Bahamas on August 29, it slowly proceeded westward and became a hurricane on September 1. Northeast storm warnings[1] were ordered displayed Fort Pierce to Fort Myers in the September 1, 9:30 AM Weather Bureau advisory.[2] Upon receipt of this advisory the U. S. Coast Guard Station, Miami, FL, sent a plane along the coast to advise boaters of the impending danger by dropping message blocks. A second flight was made Sunday afternoon. All planes were placed in the hanger and its door closed at 10:00 AM Monday morning.[3][4]

September 2 (Labor Day), the Weather Bureau in its 1:30 PM advisory ordered hurricane warnings[1] for the Key West district[2] which extended north to Key Largo.[5] At around 2:00 PM, Fred Ghent, Assistant Administrator, Florida Emergency Relief Administration, requested a special train to evacuate the veterans work camps located in the upper keys.[6] It departed Miami at 4:25 PM; delayed by a draw bridge opening, obstructions across the track, high water and the necessity to back the locomotive below Homestead (so it could head out on the return trip) the train finally arrived at the Islamorada station near camp headquarters at about 8:20 PM. This coincided with the passage of the hurricane’s calm center a few miles southwest over Lower Matecumbe and Long Key. The winds abruptly shifted from northeast (Florida Bay) to southeast (Atlantic Ocean), just as the storm tide reached the coast.[7] The keys were scoured. Eleven cars were swept from the tracks, leaving upright only the locomotive and tender. Remarkably, everyone on the train survived.[8] The waters quickly receded after the surge carved new channels through the keys, connecting the bay with the ocean. But gale force winds and high seas persisted into Tuesday, preventing rescue efforts. The storm continued northwest along the Florida west coast, weakening before its second landfall near Cedar Key, Florida on September 4.

Florida East Coast Railway Overseas Railroad relief train derailed near Islamorada, Florida during the 1935 Labor Day hurricane.

The compact and intense hurricane caused extreme damage in the upper Florida Keys, as a storm surge of approximately 18 to 20 feet (5.5–6 meters) swept over the low-lying islands. The hurricane's strong winds and the surge destroyed nearly all the structures between Tavernier and Marathon. The town of Islamorada was obliterated. Portions of the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway were severely damaged or destroyed. The hurricane also caused additional damage in northwest Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

Meteorological history[edit]

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale

The storm was born as a small tropical disturbance East of Florida near the Bahamas in late August. The disturbance moved westward toward the Gulf Stream, and US weather forecasters became aware of a potential tropical storm. The tropical storm strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane as it neared the southern tip of Andros Island in the Bahamas early on September 1.

As the hurricane passed over the warm Gulf Stream late on September 1 it underwent rapid deepening. It intensified without pause for a day and a half while its track made a gentle turn to the northwest, toward Islamorada in the Upper Keys. The hurricane reached peak intensity on September 2, making landfall between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. EST at Craig Key.

Most intense Atlantic hurricanes
Rank Hurricane Season Pressure
hPa inHg
1 Wilma 2005 882 26.05
2 Gilbert 1988 888 26.23
3 "Labor Day" 1935 892 26.34
4 Rita 2005 895 26.43
5 Allen 1980 899 26.55
6 Camille 1969 900 26.58
7 Katrina 2005 902 26.64
8 Mitch 1998 905 26.73
Dean 2007 905 26.73
10 "Cuba" 1924 910 26.88
Ivan 2004 910 26.88
Source: HURDAT[9]

After striking the Keys the hurricane moved northward, weakening as it paralleled the west coast of Florida. It made a second landfall in northwest Florida near Cedar Key as a Category 2 hurricane on September 4. It quickly weakened to a tropical storm as it moved inland, passing over Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina before emerging into the Atlantic Ocean near Norfolk. The storm quickly re-intensified to hurricane status on September 6 as it reached winds of 90 mph (145 km/h). It continued northeast, slowly weakened, rapidly became extratropical south of Nova Scotia, and dissipated south of Greenland on September 10.


Most intense landfalling Atlantic hurricanes
Intensity is measured solely by central pressure
Rank Hurricane Season Landfall pressure
1 "Labor Day" 1935 892 mbar (hPa)
2 Gilbert 1988 900 mbar (hPa)
3 Dean 2007 905 mbar (hPa)
Source: National Hurricane Center

The Labor Day Hurricane was the only storm known to make landfall in the US and anywhere in the Atlantic Basin with a minimum central pressure below 900 mbar. Only 2 other hurricanes have struck the United States with winds of Category 5 strength. It remains the third most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, surpassed only by Hurricanes Gilbert (1988) and Wilma (2005). However, it was the most intense for a total of 53 years, from 1935 until Gilbert formed in 1988.

The maximum sustained wind speed at landfall is estimated to have been near 185 mph (260 km/h).[10] The recorded central pressure was reported as 26.35 inHg (892 mbar hPa). This was the record low pressure for a hurricane anywhere in the Western Hemisphere until surpassed by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and Hurricane Wilma in 2005.


Veterans Storm Relief Map

The Florida Emergency Relief Administration reported that as of November 19, 1935, the total of dead stood at 423: 259 veterans and 164 civilians. These numbers are reflected on the Veterans Storm Relief Map (which see). By March 1, 1936, 62 additional bodies had been recovered bringing the total to 485: 257 veterans and 228 civilians.[11] The discrepancy in veterans’ deaths resulted from the difficulty in identifying bodies, particularly those found months after the hurricane, and a question of definition; whether to count just those on the camp payrolls or to include others, not enrolled, who happened to be veterans. The Veterans’ Affairs Administration (VA) compiled its own list of veterans’ deaths: 121 Dead-positive identification, 90 Missing, and 45 Dead-identification tentative, totaling 256. Five others are named in a footnote. One proved to be a misidentification of a previously listed veteran; two were state employees working at the camps; and two were unaffiliated veterans caught in the storm. This gives a total for all veterans of 260.[12] Adding this to the Florida Emergency Relief Administration number for civilians gives a total of 488 for all deaths.

Three veterans’ work camps existed in the Florida Keys before the hurricane: #1 on Windley Key, #3 and #5 on Lower Matecumbe Key.[13] The camp payrolls for August 30 listed 695 veterans.[14] They were employed in a project to complete the Overseas Highway connecting the mainland with Key West. The camps, including 7 in Florida and 4 in South Carolina, were established by Harry L. Hopkins, director of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA). In the autumn of 1934 the problem of transient veterans in Washington DC “threatened … to become acute and did become acute in January.”[15] Facilities in the capital were inadequate to handle the large numbers of veterans seeking jobs.[16][17] President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with Mr. Hopkins and Robert Fechner, director of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to discuss solutions. He “suggested the Southern camp plan and approved the program worked out by Mr. Hopkins for their establishment and maintenance.”[18] The VA identified eligible veterans.[19] FERA offered grants to the states for their construction projects if they would accept the veterans as laborers. The state Emergency Relief Administrations were responsible for the daily management of the camps.[20] In practice the state ERAs were very much the creatures of FERA, to the extent of handpicking the administrators.[21][22] That only two states participated was perhaps attributable to the then popular impression that the transient veterans were “diseased” bums and hoboes.[23] It was a characterization enthusiastically fed by the media. In August 1935 both Time Magazine[24] and the New York Times published sensational articles.[25][26] On Aug. 15, 1935, Hopkins announced the termination of the veterans work program and closure of all the camps.[27] Perhaps the bad press was a factor in his decision.

Three ships ran afoul of the storm. ″The Danish motorship Leise Maersk was carried over Alligator Reef and grounded nearly 4 miles beyond, after being totally disabled by the wind and sea, with engine room flooded."[28] This was just offshore of Upper Matecumbe Key. No one died and the ship was salvaged on Sept. 20. ″The American tanker Pueblo drifted helplessly in the storm from 2 to 10 p. m. of September 2; she went out of control near 24°40’N, 80°25‘W, and was carried completely around the storm center, finding herself in 8 hours about 25 miles northeastward of her original position, and just barely able to claw off Molasses Reef.″[28] However, the ship that made the headlines was the American steamship Dixie out of New Orleans, with a crew of 121 and 229 passengers.[29] It ran aground on French Reef, near Key Largo, without loss of life; it was refloated on September 19 and towed to New York.

The main transportation route linking the Keys to mainland Florida was one railroad line, the Florida Overseas Railroad portion of the Florida East Coast Railway. A 11-car evacuation train, sent from Homestead, was washed off the track by the storm surge and high winds on Upper Matecumbe Key. Only the locomotive remained on the rails, and was barged back to Miami several months later. The National Weather Service estimated 408 deaths from the hurricane. Bodies were recovered as far away as Flamingo and Cape Sable on the southwest tip of the Florida mainland.

Most intense landfalling U.S. hurricanes
Intensity is measured solely by central pressure
Rank Hurricane Season Landfall pressure
1 "Labor Day" 1935 892 mbar (hPa)
2 Camille 1969 900 mbar (hPa)
3 Katrina 2005 920 mbar (hPa)
4 Andrew 1992 922 mbar (hPa)
5 "Indianola" 1886 925 mbar (hPa)
6 "Florida Keys" 1919 927 mbar (hPa)
7 "Okeechobee" 1928 929 mbar (hPa)
8 "Great Miami" 1926 930 mbar (hPa)
Donna 1960 930 mbar (hPa)
10 Carla 1961 931 mbar (hPa)
Source: HURDAT,[9] Hurricane
Research Division[30]

The hurricane left a path of near destruction in the Upper Keys, which killed about 50 people, centered on what is today the village of Islamorada. Nearly every structure was demolished, and some bridges and railway embankments were washed away. The links — rail, road, and ferry boats — that chained the islands together were broken. The Islamorada area was devastated, although the hurricane's destructive path was narrower than most tropical cyclones. Its eye was eight miles (13 km.) across and the fiercest winds extended 15 miles (24 km.) off the center, less than 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which was also a relatively small and catastrophic Category 5 hurricane.

Craig Key, Long Key, and Upper Matecumbe and Lower Matecumbe Keys suffered the worst. After the third day of the storm corpses swelled and split open in the subtropical heat, according to rescue workers. Public health officials ordered plain wood coffins holding the dead to be stacked and burned in several locations.

The United States Coast Guard and other state and federal agencies organized evacuation and relief efforts. Boats and airplanes carried injured survivors to Miami. The railroad was never rebuilt, but temporary bridges and ferry landings were under construction as soon as materials arrived. Within a few years a roadway (Overseas Highway) linked the Keys to the mainland. The storm caused wind and flood damage along the Florida panhandle and into Georgia.

Ernest Hemingway visited the veteran's camp by boat after weathering the hurricane at his home in Key West; he wrote about the devastation in a critical article titled Who Killed the Vets? for The New Masses magazine.[31] Hemingway implied that the FERA workers and families, who were unfamiliar with the risks of Florida hurricane season, were unwitting victims of a system that appeared to lack concern for their welfare. From the Ernest Hemingway statement on the tragedy:

Strongest U.S. landfalling hurricanes*†
Rank Hurricane Season Wind speed
Mph Km/h
1 “Labor Day” 1935 185 295
2 Camille 1969 175 280
3 Andrew 1992 165 265
“Last Island” 1856 150 240
“Indianola” 1886 150 240
“Florida Keys” 1919 150 240
“Freeport” 1932 150 240
Charley 2004 150 240
9 "Great Miami" 1926 145 230
"Okeechobee" 1928 145 230
Source: HURDAT,[9] Hurricane
Research Division[30]
*List refers to hurricanes that struck the lower 48 states,
excluding U.S. territories elsewhere.

†Strength refers to maximum sustained wind speed
upon striking land.

...wealthy people, yachtsmen, fishermen such as President Hoover and Presidents Roosevelt, do not come to the Florida Keys in hurricane months.... There is a known danger to property. But veterans, especially the bonus-marching variety of veterans, are not property. They are only human beings; unsuccessful human beings, and all they have to lose is their lives. They are doing coolie labor for a top wage of $45 a month and they have been put down on the Florida Keys where they can't make trouble. It is hurricane months, sure, but if anything comes up, you can always evacuate them, can't you?.....It is not necessary to go into the deaths of the civilians and their families since they were on the Keys of their own free will; They made their living there, had property and knew the hazards involved. But the veterans had been sent there; they had no opportunity to leave, nor any protection against hurricanes; and they never had a chance for their lives. Who sent nearly a thousand war veterans, many of them husky, hard-working and simply out of luck, but many of them close to the border of pathological cases, to live in frame shacks on the Florida Keys in hurricane months?

In the same issue of The New Masses appeared an editorial charging criminal negligence and a cartoon depicting burning corpses. A Washington Post editorial on Sept. 5, titled Ruin in the Veterans' Camps, stated the widely held opinion that the ″camps were havens of rest designed to keep Bonus Marchers away from Washington... Most of these veterans are drifters, psychopathic cases or habitual troublemakers... Those who are nor physically or mentally handicapped have no claim whatsoever to special rewards in return for bonus agitation."

As a curiosity, eccentric inventor Donald Roebling was impressed by the difficulties in rescuing victims of this hurricane, and that inspired him to design an amphibious tractor that could travel through flooded areas. Such a vehicle evolved into the Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) series of amphibious tractors and amphibious personnel carriers, widely used during WW2.


Improved weather conditions on Wednesday, September 4, permitted the evacuation of survivors to begin. Participating in the rescue were the American Red Cross, Florida National Guard, city and county officials, FERA, Works Progress Administration (WPA), CCC, Coast Guard, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Dade County Undertakers Association, Dade County Medical Society, and numerous individuals (including Ernest Hemingway). Headquarters of the operation was the near shore of Snake Creek on Plantation Key. With the bridge over the creek washed out this was the farthest point south on the highway. On September 5 at a meeting of all public and private agencies involved Governor David Sholtz placed the sheriffs of Monroe and Dade Counties in overall control.[32]

On the evening of September 4, 1935, Brigadier General Frank T. Hines, VA Administrator, received a phone call from Hyde Park, NY. It was Stephen Early, the President’s press secretary. He had orders from the President who was very distressed by the news from Florida. The VA was to: 1. Cooperate with FERA in seeing that everything possible be done for those injured in the hurricane; 2. See that the bodies were properly cared for shipment home to relatives, and that those bodies for which shipment home was not requested be sent to Arlington National Cemetery; and, 3. Conduct a very careful joint investigation with Mr. Hopkins’ organization, to determine whether there was any fault that would lie against anyone in the Administration. Hines’ representative in Florida was to take full charge of the situation and all other organizations and agencies were ordered to cooperate.[33]

The President’s first order was straight forward and promptly executed. 124 injured veterans were treated in Miami area hospitals; 9 of these died. 56 were later transferred to VA medical facilities.[34] Uninjured veterans were removed to Camp Foster in Jacksonville and evaluated for transfer to the CCC; those declining transfer or deemed unemployable were paid off and given tickets home.[35] All of the FERA transient camps were closed in November 1935. In December 1935 FERA itself was absorbed within the new WPA, also directed by Hopkins.

The second and third orders, however, were almost immediately compromised. At a news conference on September 5, Hopkins asserted that there was no negligence traceable to FERA in the failed evacuation of the camps as the Weather Bureau advisories had given insufficient warning. He also dispatched his assistant, Aubrey Willis Williams, to Florida to coordinate FERA efforts and to investigate the deaths.[36] Williams and Hines’ assistant, Colonel George E. Ijams, both arrived in Miami on September 6. Ijams concentrated on the dead, their collection, identification and proper disposition. This was to prove exceptionally difficult. Bodies were scattered throughout the Keys and their rapid decomposition created ghastly conditions. State and local health officials demanded a ban on all movement of bodies and their immediate burial or cremation in place; the next day Governor Sholtz so ordered.[37] This was reluctantly agreed to by Hines with the understanding that those buried would be later disinterred and shipped home or to Arlington when permitted by the State health authorities.[38]

The cremations began on Saturday, September 7; 38 bodies were burned together at the collection point beside Snake Creek. Over the next week 136 bodies were cremated on Upper Matecumbe Key at 12 different locations. On Lower Matecumbe Key 82 were burned at 20 sites. On numerous small keys in Florida Bay bodies were either burned or buried where found. This effort continued into November. 123 bodies had been transported to Miami before the embargo. These were processed at a temporary morgue staffed by fingerprint experts and 8 volunteer undertakers under tents at Woodlawn Park Cemetery (3260 SW 8th St, Miami). The intention was to identify the remains and prepare them for burial or further shipment. With the embargo in force immediate burial of all the bodies at Woodlawn was mandatory. FERA purchased a plot in Section 2A. The VA coordinated the ceremony with full military honors on September 8.[39] 109 bodies were buried in the FERA plot: 81 veterans, 9 civilians and 19 unidentified bodies.[40]

Collection of hurricane victims
Sept. 7, 1935, Cremation of hurricane victims, Snake Creek
Sep. 8, 1935, Mass burial at Woodlawn Park Cemetery

Williams meanwhile rushed to complete the investigation. He finished on Sunday, September 8, the day an elaborate memorial service and mass burial of hurricane victims (both coordinated by Ijams) were held in Miami.[41] Ijams who had been too busy to participate in the investigation and had not questioned any of the 12 witnesses interrogated by Williams, nonetheless signed the 15 page report to the President.[42] That night Williams released it to the Miami press in a radio broadcast immediately following the memorial ceremony. Ijams considered the timing unfortunate after receiving several critical telephone messages.[43] The report exonerated everyone involved and concluded: “To our mind the catastrophe must be characterized as an act of God and was by its very nature beyond the power of man or instruments at his disposal to foresee sufficiently far enough in advance to permit the taking of adequate precautions capable of preventing the death and desolation which occurred.”[44] Early also found the publicity around the report "unfortunate". In a telegram to his colleague, assistant Presidential secretary Marvin H. McIntyre, Early wrote that he had authorized Hines to proceed with a "complete and exhaustive" joint investigation with Hopkins. Significantly Hines was to "instruct his investigator that under no circumstances will any statement be made to the Press until final report has been submitted to the President."[45] Hopkins gave similar instructions to his investigator. McIntyre also was involved in damage control. On Sept. 10, 1935, the Greater Miami Ministerial Association wrote the President an angry letter labeling the report a "whitewash". McIntyre forwarded it to FERA for a response. Williams returned a draft for the President's signature on Sept. 25th insisting the report was only preliminary and that the "final and detailed report ... will be both thorough and searching".[46]

Williams assigned John Abt, assistant general counsel for FERA, to complete the investigation. On Sept. 11, 1935, Hines directed the skeptical and meticulous David W. Kennamer to investigate the disaster. There was immediate friction between them; Kennamer believed Abt did not have an open mind and Abt felt further investigation was unnecessary.[47] Working with Harry W. Farmer, another VA investigator, Kennamer completed his 3 volume report on October 30, 1935. It included 2,168 pages of exhibits, 118 pages of findings, and a 19 page general comment.[48] His findings differed substantially from those of Williams, citing three officials of the Florida Emergency Relief Administration as negligent (Administrator Conrad Van Hyning, Asst. Administrator Fred Ghent and Camp Superintendent Ray Sheldon). In a response to a testy rebuttal written by Abt, Ijams sided with Kennamer.[49] Hines and Hopkins never agreed on a final report, and Kennamer’s findings were suppressed. They remained so for decades.[50]

One might speculate that Hines wished to avoid a public quarrel with Hopkins, who had enjoyed Roosevelt’s patronage since his term as New York Governor. Hines was a holdover from the Hoover administration. Such an internal dispute would embarrass the Roosevelt administration at the time a vote on the Adjusted Compensation Payment Act (“Bonus Bill”) was upcoming (it passed on Jan. 27, 1936, over the President’s veto).[51] Also, 1936 was a presidential election year. Kennamer did appear at the House hearings in April 1936, along with Hines, Ijams, Williams and the 3 officials he pilloried in his report. He was not questioned about his controversial findings nor did he volunteer his opinions.[52]



Standing just east of U.S. 1 at mile marker 82 in Islamorada, near where Islamorada's post office stood, is a simple monument[53] designed by the Florida Division of the Federal Art Project and constructed using Keys limestone ("keystone") by the Works Progress Administration. It was unveiled on November 14, 1937, with more than 4,000 people attending. Hines had been invited to speak but he declined.[54] His attitude to the project was unenthusiastic. In a letter to Williams on June 24, 1937, regarding what to do with the many skeletons of veterans recently discovered in the Keys, he wrote: ″It occurs to me that if a large memorial is erected adjacent to this highway at the place of the disaster it will be observed by all persons using the highway and will serve as a constant reminder of the unfortunate catastrophe which occurred.″[55] Hines recommended the remains be buried at Woodlawn. A frieze depicts palm trees amid curling waves, fronds bent in the wind. In front of the sculpture a ceramic-tile mural of the Keys covers a stone crypt, which holds victims' ashes from the makeshift funeral pyres, and the skeletons. Although this is a grave site not a single name appears anywhere on the monument. This is not a requirement for the civilian dead. A memorial with identifying information is a statutory entitlement for the veterans.[56] The VA has chosen not to act, despite President Roosevelt's order that Hines provide all the veterans not claimed by their families burial with full military honors.

On February 18, 1939, President Roosevelt had the opportunity to see the memorial for himself. His motorcade passed through Islamorada on the way to Key West where he was to begin a visit with the battle fleet on maneuvers. But there is no record that he made a stop; no mention in newspaper reports,[57] the President’s daily calendar,[58] or in a press conference[59] held during a lunch stop at the CCC camp on West Summerland Key (renamed Scout Key in 2010). This omission is puzzling in that he had sent a telegram to the dedication in which he expressed “heartfelt sympathy” and said “the disaster which made desolate the hearts of so many of our people brought a personal sorrow to me because some years ago I knew many residents of the keys.”[60] Perhaps the welcoming committee, including Key West Mayor Willard M. Albury,[61] wished to promote the new Overseas Highway rather than the region’s propensity for hurricanes.

Florida Keys Memorial, view of park; plaque in foreground
Relief and dedication
Hurricane Monument, Woodlawn Park North Cemetery, Miami, FL, on site of mass grave

The memorial was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1995. The text on the plaque entitled "The Florida Keys Memorial" in front of the monument reads:

The Florida Keys Memorial, known locally as the "Hurricane Monument," was built to honor hundreds of American veterans and local citizens who perished in the "Great Hurricane" on Labor Day, September 2, 1935. Islamorada sustained winds of 200 miles per hour (322 kph) and a barometer reading of 26.36 inches (66.95 cm) for many hours on that fateful holiday; most local buildings and the Florida East Coast Railway were destroyed by what remains the most savage hurricane on record. Hundreds of WWI veterans who had been camped in the Matecumbe area while working on the construction of US Highway One for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) were killed. In 1937 the cremated remains of approximately 300 people were placed within the tiled crypt in front of the monument. The monument is composed of native keystone, and its striking frieze depicts coconut palm trees bending before the force of hurricane winds while the waters from an angry sea lap at the bottom of their trunks. Monument construction was funded by the WPA and regional veterans' associations. Over the years the Hurricane Monument has been cared for by local veterans, hurricane survivors, and descendants of the victims.

Storm total rainfall graphic for the East which covers September 2–6, 1935

Local residents hold ceremonies at the monument every year on Labor Day (on the Monday holiday) and on Memorial Day to honor the veterans and the civilians who died in the hurricane.

Woodlawn Park Cemetery

On January 31, 1936, Harvey W. Seeds Post No. 29, American Legion, Miami, Florida, petitioned FERA for the deed to the Woodlawn plot.[62] The Legion would use the empty grave sites for the burial of indigent veterans and accept responsibility for care of the plot. After some initial confusion as to the actual owner,[63] the State of Florida approved the title transfer. A monument[64] was placed on the plot, inscribed: Erected by Harvey W. Seeds Post No. 29, The American Legion, in Memory of Our Comrades Who Lost Their Lives on the Florida Keys during the 1935 Hurricane, Lest We Forget. As with the Islamorada memorial no names appear. Nor were the individual grave sites marked. Again the VA chose not to obey the President’s order, this time to rebury the unclaimed bodies at Arlington. Two bodies were exhumed by the families: Brady C. Lewis on Nov. 12, 1936; and, Thomas K. Moore[65] on Jan. 20, 1937 (reburied at Arlington). Five more received grave markers at Woodlawn, leaving 74 unmarked graves of identified veterans.

One other veteran killed in the storm rests at Arlington, Daniel C. Main.[66] His was a special case, the only victim who died in the camps who was neither cremated in the Keys nor buried at Woodlawn. Main was the camp medical director and was killed in the collapse of the small hospital at Camp #1. His body was quickly recovered by survivors and shipped to his family before the embargo.

Veterans Key

On February 27, 2006 the U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved a proposal by Jerry Wilkinson, President, Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys, to name a small island off the southern tip of Lower Matecumbe Key, for the veterans who died in the hurricane. It is near where Camp #3 was located. Veterans Key[67] and several concrete pilings are all that remain of the 1935 bridge construction project.

Eastern Seaboard[edit]

After making landfall along the Gulf coast near Cedar Key, Florida, the cyclone moved up the fall line through Georgia, the Carolinas, and then out to sea after passing through southeast Virginia. Heavy rainfall spread in advance and magnified to the left of the track across the Mid-Atlantic states. Rainfall totals of 16.7 inches (420 mm) in Easton, Maryland and 13.4 inches (340 mm) at Atlantic City, New Jersey were the highest seen with the storm.[68]

Key Largo[edit]

In the 1948 Warner Brothers film, Key Largo, Lionel Barrymore recalled the effects of the 1935 hurricane, as another hurricane bore down on the Florida Keys. Special effects were used on the Warner lot in the film to re-create a powerful hurricane.

See also[edit]


Audio Recording[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Hurricane Warning Service, p. 3, June 1, 1933 Flickr
  2. ^ a b Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 184. HathiTrust Digital Library
  3. ^ Memorandum of interview with Lt. Olson and Lt. Clemmer Kennamer
  4. ^ U. S. Coast Guard 1935 Hurricane Report Wilkinson
  5. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 199. HathiTrust Digital Library
  6. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 336, record of phone calls by Fred Ghent. HathiTrust Digital Library
  7. ^ Monthly Weather Review, September 1935, p. 269. American Meteorological Society
  8. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 504. HathiTrust Digital Library
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  10. ^ David A. Glenn (2005). "A Reanalysis of the 1916, 1918, 1927, 1928, and 1935 Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Basin" (PDF). NOAA. Archived from the original on 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
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  12. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, ps. 390 - 400. Hathitrust Digital Library
  13. ^ The Key Veteran News Flickr
  14. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 390, Letter Hines to Rankin.HathiTrust Digital Library
  15. ^ New York Times, Aug. 8, 1935, p. 11, “4,000 Veterans Placed in Southern Camps”, NYT
  16. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 364, Testimony of Frank Hines. HathiTrust Digital Library
  17. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 443, Testimony of Aubrey Williams. Hathitrust Digital Library
  18. ^ New York Times, Aug. 8, 1935, p. 11, “4,000 Veterans Placed in Southern Camps” NYT
  19. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 365. HathiTrust Digital Library
  20. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 435. HathiTrust Digital Library
  21. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 49, Testimony of Julius Stone. Hathitrust Digital Library
  22. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 435, Testimony of Aubrey Williams. Hathitrust Digital Library
  23. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 445, Testimony of Aubrey Williams. Hathitrust Digital Library
  24. ^ Time, Aug. 26, 1935, “Relief: Playgrounds for Derelicts”. Time Magazine
  25. ^ NYT, Aug. 7, 1935, p. 1, “Veterans Find a 'Heaven' In Federal Camp in South”. NYT
  26. ^ NYT, Aug 14, 1935, p. 1, “Bonus Army Digs Old 'Swimmin' Hole' as Rehabilitation”. NYT
  27. ^ NYT, Aug. 16, 1935, p. 9, “Veterans' Camps to be Abandoned”. NYT
  28. ^ a b Monthly Weather Review, Sept. 1935
  29. ^ Miami Daily News, Sept.3,1935 Google News
  30. ^ a b National Hurricane Center; Hurricane Research Division; Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (February 2015). "Continental United States Hurricanes (Detailed Description)". aoml.noaa.gov. Miami: United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  31. ^ American Red Cross, South Florida Division: Remembering the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane.
  32. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 331. Hathitrust Digital Library
  33. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 371. Hathitrust Digital Library
  34. ^ Letter, Machlan to Hines, Sept. 16, 1935, VA Investigative Records, National Archives Building, Washington DC
  35. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 332. Hathitrust Digital Library
  36. ^ NYT, Sept. 5, 1935, "Defends Failure to Move Veterans; Hopkins Says Action Was Not Warranted by the Reports of Hurricane's Course", p. 9. NYT
  37. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 332.Hathitrust Digital Library
  38. ^ Hines to Col. McIntyre, Third Report on Evacuation of Veterans from Florida, Sept. 7, 1935, Hurricane Records, FDR Library
  39. ^ Miami Daily News, Sept. 9, 1935, p. 8. Google News
  40. ^ Plot Plan, Woodlawn Park Cemetery of Hurricane Victims of Keys September 2nd & 3rd 1935 with notes, VA Report of Investigation, National Archives Building, Washington , DC. Plot Plan
  41. ^ Miami Daily News, Sept. 9, 1935, p. 1i, “Thousands Bow in Tribute Paid to Storm Dead.” Google News
  42. ^ Report, Williams and Ijams to Roosevelt, Sept. 8, 1935, FDR Library. Flickr
  43. ^ Telegram, Ijams to Hines, Sept. 9, 1935. Flickr
  44. ^ Miami Daily News, September 9, 1935, p. 9, “Storm Deaths an Act of God, Says Williams”. Google News
  45. ^ Telegram, Early to McIntyre, Sept. 10, 1935. Flickr
  46. ^ Correspondence regarding letter from the Greater Miami Ministerial Association, Sept. 10, 1935. Flickr
  47. ^ Letter, Kennamer to Jared, Sept. 12, 1935 Flickr
  48. ^ Memo dated Oct. 5, 1935 and General Comments by D. W. Kennamer Flickr
  49. ^ Memo, Ijams to Hines, Jan. 10, 1935, VA Investigative Records, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
  50. ^ VA letter denying release of Kennamer's report, Mar. 26, 1968.Letter
  51. ^ Miami Daily News, Jan. 27, 1936, p.1. Google News
  52. ^ Florida Hurricane Disaster Hearings, p. 334. Hathitrust Digital Library
  53. ^ Florida Keys Memorial Flickr
  54. ^ Letter, Hines to Mills, Nov. 2, 1937 Flickr
  55. ^ Letter, Hines to Williams, June 24, 1937 Flickr
  56. ^ 38 U.S. Code § 2306 (b) Cornell Law
  57. ^ Miami Daily News, February 19, 1939, p. 1 and 10, Roosevelt. Google News
  58. ^ FDR Presidential Library. Day by Day, February 18, 1939. FDR Library
  59. ^ FDR Presidential Library, Press Conference #526, February 18, 1939, p. 152. FDR Library
  60. ^ The Palm Beach Post, Nov. 15, 1937, p. 10, Matecumbe Monument Honors Victims of 1935 Hurricane Google News
  61. ^ Miami Daily News, February 16, 1939, p.1, Florida Awaits Train Bearing Roosevelt Here. Google News
  62. ^ Resolution, Harvey W. Seeds Post No. 29, American Legion, Jan. 31, 1936 Resolution
  63. ^ Letter, Wickenden to Trammell, March 9, 1936 Letter
  64. ^ Woodlawn Monument Flickr
  65. ^ Moore grave site Arlington Find a Grave
  66. ^ Main grave site Arlington NC Find a Grave
  67. ^ Veterans Key, U.S. Board on Geographic Names
  68. ^ United States Corp of Engineers (1945). Storm Total Rainfall In The United States. War Department. p. SA 1–26. 

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