Kansas Winds — Wichita Eagle, 1880

The Wichita Eagle waxed poetic in describing the spring storms of 1880. On March 26-27 Wichita was visited by a “fierce” wind “blindingly full of sand and dust” whipped into “a yellowish impenetrable fog.” The sun was at times obscured and objects a few yards away invisible. An intense charge of electricity interfered with telegraph service.

The Wichita (Kansas) Eagle, April 1, 1880, p 3. In Dust Storms: Part Two, 1861-1880 by James C. Malin. Kansas Historical Quarterly. August 1946 (14: 3), pages 265-296. Downloaded from Kansas Historical Society.

Three weeks later came the report of a blow that employs the redemptive power of humour against the storm’s destructive severity, ranking “some of the more ordinary stamps of zephyrs with which our valley is favored.”

makes that gentle being, your wife, look as though, fresh from the hands of her Creator, she had been whirled down to you from Heaven in a self-adjusting cyclone, when, in fact, she had only been out for a call.

knocks you on the head with gravel, fills your hair, hide and gizzard with sand, follows you home, blows the lids off the cooking stove, slams all the doors to at once, and then sits on its hind legs and howls through your windows all night like a lop-eared hound.

blows for two days from the south and as many from the north with a vigor that wilts the leaves on the trees, turns the hair on the old cow the wrong way, upsets the hired girl into the slop bucket, [and] picks the feathers off the chickens before they are scalded.

These, however, are but a “soft south breathing from a bank of violets” compared to “the blow last Sunday:”

It was as though all things on earth and in air, animate and inanimate, fast at one end or both, had gone mad and been turned loose with tons of sand and the din of threshing machines to the acre thrown in for good measure.

Wichita Eagle, April 22, 1880, p 3. Dust Storms, Part 2.

A ten-paragraph article on page 2 of the same issue of the Eagle detailed the considerable loss of life and damage from the storm. In Marshfield, Missouri more than forty people died.