The Great New England Hurricane AKA The Long Island Express Struck September 21 1938

The Great New England Hurricane

Massive Widespread Damage and Flooding

Today in Hanover and Dartmouth College History September 21, 1938 " The Great New England hurricane" also known as The "Long Island Express Hurricane" struck.

The fury of this hurricane is estimated to have caused the deaths of 682, damaged or destroyed over 57,000 homes and caused property loss in excess of $306 million dollars ($4.7 BILLION in 2017 dollars).

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As the Hurricane of 1938 approached Long Island Sound, the eye of the storm was 50 miles wide. Sustained winds were in the area of 70 to 110 miles per hours as the hurricane threatened Rhode Island. Over 400 deaths were caused due to extreme flooding. Massachusetts where the Blue Hill Observatory just west of Boston recorded winds of 186 mph. The hurricane passed through central Massachusetts and into the Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire. Sustained winds of 80 mph produced severe damage in much of the state. It wasn't until after sunset that the storm passed out of the northern most reaches of the state and into Canada. Forecasters had badly erred in their prediction the hurricane would pass out to sea wide to the east of New England. In Hancock NH Hancock Congregational church in the village suffered when the storm tore off the steeple, and forced it back through the roof of the church upside down.

Locally I have no records of deaths from the hurricane but the damage was widespread to buildings and utilities.

College Hall North Main St and West Wheelock Street

Car smashed by fallen tree on South Park St. The White brick building in the rear of the picture was part of the NH  College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts remains today

Flooding caused by the hurricane crested the Connecticut River into Norwich and throughout the Connecticut River Watershed

Looking West towards West South St as seen from South Main St The Bank of America Building is now on the right and the Irving Station, the former Manchester's Gulf is on the left.

It is still the only hurricane to have struck Vermont as a hurricane. Hurricane Irene was down graded to a tropical storm prior to smacking Vermont in 2011.
It remains the most powerful and deadliest hurricane in recent New England history, eclipsed in landfall intensity perhaps only by the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635.

The Ames Residence on Roper Ferry Rd, Now the Montgomery House.

South Park St the Burtons Garage

Burton's Car destroyed with the collapsing garage


North Main St Casgue and Guantlet, College Hall and Robinson Hall

September 21 1938 Possibly Choate Rd or Webster Ave. Not a great place for the kid to be standing. Gravity.

The Jones Residence on Lyme Rd

A view towards Bartlett Tower and the evidence of the trees of Dartmouth Park nearly all destroyed by the force of the winds

Dartmouth Memorial Stadium visitors stands destroyed by the winds. The windows into the Gymnasium blown in by debris.Davis Hockey rink also in the background

The Damage was not limited to the Connecticut River Valley. This photo shows the flood waters of Mascoma Lake and the destruction of the Shaker Bridge.

Flooding in Canaan Flats

The intersection of Main St and Wheelock st.

September 21 1938 looking West towards Norwich from Occom Ridge Rd. The trees that did not uproot snapped from wind shear

Looking South from the Dartmouth Ski Jump that survived the winds The damage to the trees in the area of Pine Park and the Hanover country Club is evident. The picture is grainy but one can identify Baker Tower which is only about 10 years old at this point, the smoke stack of Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital and Bartlett Tower revealed from its previous tree cover.

You can go to Dartmouth College's Rauner Library for amazing images.

The view looking North from the Dartmouth Ski Jump with trees across the jump.

September 21 1938 The Dartmouth Ski Jump Survived the Hurricane

The Dartmouth Green after the September 21 1938 Hurricane. Rollins Chapel, Wentworth and Dartmouth Hall

Park St "The Castle" September 21 1938

As we witness the devastation striking the southern US and the islands of the Caribbean, morn the loss of life and brace for storms heading our way, we must remember to prepare for these and other types of natural weather events. 

We cannot stop or control mother nature, but we can do our best to prepare for these events and be ready to take care of ourselves and our neighbors when they occur.

The staff at Dartmouth College's Rauner Library cant protect us, but they do preserve and protect so many really amazing, special items and resources for all to learn from.

Photo credits to Rauner Library and special thanks and credit to Mr Adrian N. Bouchard who served as the photographer for Dartmouth College and captured so many of the local images that we can learn from and enjoy.


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