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The 1925 Hayfield Tornado

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

In 1925 our town was devastated by a tornado. Below is the article written by Mrs Olive Sunwall in the June 15, 1972 Hayfield Herald Centennial edition! If you have any other pics or stories please feel free to share them!

Tornado of 1925 By Mrs Olive Sunwall

The Hayfield Village was struck by a disastrous tornado on June 13, 1925. It was the worst disaster in the history of Hayfield. No lives were lost which was miraculous.

Most of the businesses were wrecked or had damage at an estimated cost between $150,000 to $300,000. This all happened on a very hot and muggy Saturday afternoon.

Shortly before the cyclone struck, at around 3 p.m., many people were gathered on the streets, watching a cyclone funnel north of Blooming Prairie, and this accounts for the fact, that it served as a warning when the cyclone really arrived, many had taken refuge in their basements.

Minutes before the storm broke, a severe hail storm preceded the rain, which was followed by a thundering roar and the air was filled with all sorts of debris. The funnel of the cyclone was seen to dip north of the flax straw stacks on the edge of town, and carried flax straw along with the other debris.

It passed thru the village Main Street, destroying many business places, too numerous to mention, and also destroying many residences, as it continued on its south eastern direction.

One never can forget that moment looking up, at the clear blue sky and the sun shining so brightly, realizing that had all happened in a matter of only a few minutes.

My husband, Victor Sunwall and son who he had rescued from his crib, myself and Mrs. E. Stanton and two daughters, Mrs. Woellstein were all huddled in the only safe corner of the basement, which as fate would have it, was as far as we could make it. We all looked at one another, with our mud stained faces, and wet hair, and you can be sure, we were thankful we were alive.

Now the site that was once a home is now Porter Hemingway's rock-garden. On this eventful day, the Myster & Baken store was filled with children, who were eager to win the Shetland pony that was to be given away. When the storm broke the children hustled to the basement. Another Miracle!

There was no electricity or telephone service at this time, due to the storm. However, the water supply was not affected. Many visitors drove into town, to inspect the damage, Saturday afternoon and evening, but it was not until Sunday that the real influx of visitors commenced. It is hard to estimate the number of visitors, but some said 7,500 cars would be a conservative number. Many were the contributions sent in by neighboring towns, to aid those in need of aid.

It is hard for anyone to conceive or remember what a job it was to clean the debris left by the storm, but many volunteers rose to the occasion and lent a hand, to clean up the village.

This goes to show there is always a willing hand to help when one is in need, and I must say I found this to be true, as I worked for days trying to salvage what I could from the ruins that was once my home.

Much more could be told about this tragic and eventful day, but lets hope there will never be another one like it.

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