Tornadoes are rare in the Allegheny Mountain regions of Clearfield County. Funnel clouds have occasionally touched down, causing property damage. Thankfully, there have been no recorded tornado-related fatalities in the county.
One severe summer storm caused a tornado to strike hard at Glen Richey, situated in Lawrence Township, in August of 1919.
News reports headlined that one person was injured and $20,000 ($304,000 a century later) of damages were incurred.
The headline continued, “Three houses are smashed to kindling wood, others wrenched from foundations.”
Citing that: “the wind came from the direction of Olanta … the rolling, swelling mass ricocheted over the woods to the east of the hill and fastened its eagle clutches on the roof of a barn of the J.B. Lytle farm.”
The wind continued “with a hissing noise, which grew to a roar in a few seconds. It descended upon the houses, which trembled and shook upon their foundations, while those who in the maelstrom did not know whether to seek safety within the houses or seek safety out of doors.”
The photo shows the damage done to what appears to be typical coal company houses of the time. Glen Richey was a coal town and these rentals, at the time, were often hastily constructed and poorly maintained.
The hard-working families, who had little means and income, likely had a tough time recovering from the destruction and their lost homes.