A closer look at the F-3 tornado that swept through the area almost 80 years ago(WDAY TV) - Since the days of the early settlers in the Red River Valley, we have always been intrigued with summer storms. Those hot, sultry days that turns into intense, random, and sometimes violent weather events. We have all heard about the killer tornado of 1957, now a look at the Tornado of 1931.
By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY
It was 79-years ago that a May F-3 tornado swept through the Sabin and Kragnes area, throwing a full "Empire Builder" train off the tracks south of Moorhead. Few remember that day, but John Dahl does.
He was just four years old when the tornado hit May of 1931. John Dahl was at his uncle's farm near Kragnes.
“The women had just finished lunch.”
Church ladies filled the house when the tornado came through.
“Women were trying to get down the stairway into the cellar.”
The barn was damaged and a machine shed leveled.
“The whole north end of the barn fell out flat on the ground.”
The tornado went on to destroy the Concordia Lutheran church in rural Dilworth, but nothing could compare to this. The Great Northern's Empire Builder was headed east of Moorhead when the tornado would hit it broadside, just off highway 52, between Moorhead and Sabin.
“Fewer and fewer remember that event.”
More than half the 117 people on board that train would be injured when the tornado picked up the cars and slammed them to the ground. The only thing left was a 136 ton locomotive. The tornado would kill two. The pile of train cars would attract on lookers for days. A twister that in seconds turned an ordinary spring day into a memorable May. There were so many people driving to the train wreck that there were four cars abreast, 8-miles long trying to get to the crash site. It even took the sheriff three hours to drive seven miles.