In June 2003 I was in De Smet for Ingalls Homestead Teacher Day. I had stopped along the way to pick up Shirley Knakmuhs and her daughter to bring her along. The event went great and I remember standing on the hill with her and her daughter at the Ingalls Homestead. My time had been mostly focused on the event, but high on my priority list of projects was to go and get more photos of Manchester, the next town down the tracks from De Smet, the birthplace of Harvey Dunn, and most importantly to me the long term home of Grace Ingalls Dow. We were already past the time we originally planned to leave (a common event with me and De Smet) and I turned to the west and calculated how much extra time a quick jaunt to Manchester would add. With one thing and another I decided we didn’t have time and said so. Shirley said we could take the time, but I calculated again, realized there really wasn’t a good way to do it and get where we supposed to before dark. So I said, “Oh no, that’s all right. Manchester will still be there the next trip.” And we got in the car and headed east instead of west.
The next week Manchester was hit by an F-4 tornado on June 24, 2003. At the time the population of Manchester had dwindled to 6 people, 3 of whom were injured in the storm.
Historic F-4 Tornado Hit the News
This storm pretty much wiped the town site clean. It was caught on film and its vitals recorded by sensor. It was one of the storms included in the Nova special “Hunt for a Supertwister.”
http://video.pbs.org/video/1464304382/ (South Dakota starts 40 minutes in)
It also made the cover of National Geographic Magazine:
Tim Samaras who was one of the stormchasers who followed the storm was killed May 31, 2013 when a tornado struck their vehicle near El Reno, Oklahoma. It was Samaras’s designed probe (called a turtle) that measured the greatest barometric pressure drop ever recorded, 100 millibars within 12 seconds. According to the De Smet News Samaras “once called his experience with the Manchester tornado the most memorable of his career.”
Highway 14 originally called the Black and Yellow Trail. Manchester’s brushes with history include being the birthplace of Harvey Dunn, being the longtime home of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Grace Ingalls Dow and her husband Nate (whose nephew was Harvey Dunn), and the 1961 great goldfield hunt sponsored by Keloland in honor of South Dakota’s territorial centennial celebration which brought out approximately 150,000 people, plus Lawrence Welk and Clint Eastwood (then famous for Rawhide). (The Keloland TV station buried literal coffee cans in an empty field and turned people lose to try to dig them up.) A now reprinted history of the town was written by Grace Ingalls Dow.
Community Since the Storm
Since the storm there has been a rise in community action. A group has cleaned up the mess, built a memorial, and has organized several events. Including a potluck in honor of the anniversary at 6:30 pm June 24, 2013. Unfortunately there has been a fight between a local landowner (Rex Geyer) who wanted to reuse some of the cement from the destroyed buildings to create a commercial rental building and the memorial builders who feel his project in its current location devalues the memorial.
“Storm Chaser Had Ties To Manchester.” De Smet News. 5 June 2013: 3. Print.
Several articles in the June 19, 2013 issue of the De Smet News were also on the anniversary.
A compromise was finally reached with the commercial rental building and the the monument supporters:
P.S. I had hit the wrong button on the camera so the date feature was turned on, but not correct this was taken in either 2004 or 2005.
UPDATE March 21, 2015: I added the signature block and did some slight editing. Plus I added a link to my post about the compromise they worked out.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.