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The Big Storm of 1953

by Virginia Carter Moll

LOOKING BACK OVER the history of Ten Mile Lake, I remember the time when Long Beach, along with a major part of Lower Ten Mile, was savaged by a summer storm, on June 29, 1953.

AT 11:30 A.M., the lake was very calm and the sky black as night. Suddenly the storm hit. I was in our cabin with my two small sons: David, 5, and Dan, 1. The winds and the rain were so powerful that the rain came through the shake siding on the upper part of the cabin and down the inside walls, as well as through cracks in the window frames, etcetera. Large hail pitted the roof (which had to be replaced). My family (the Carters) had recently purchased a new, heavy, metal dock; a new lift; and a new 14-foot Larson fishing boat. At one point in the storm, which lasted approximately a half-hour, I looked out front as the water washed up and over the walk to the cabin, and saw that the dock, lift, and boat had all disappeared.

AFTER THE STORM WAS OVER, a tangle of boat, lift, and dock was found washed in about 50 feet from the former location and onto the Stahler property. The lift was destroyed, the boat had a large puncture in the side, probably from the pounding in the lift, and the dock was in pieces but repairable.

THE DAMAGE ON around the south shore was tremendous as docks and boats were driven onto the rocky shore areas, lists were twisted and bent, and trees were down everywhere, closing roads and tearing down power lines. Don Gray estimated that in our bay, fifteen docks were out, ten boats were damaged or destroyed, and nine lifts were out or damaged. Larson Boat Works in Little Falls sent up several flat bed trucks to take damaged boats back for repair.

IT WAS FRIGHTENING. The storm moved on from Ten Mile, across Birch Lake, and into Hackensack. Electricity was out for several days. Mrs. Poland's switchboard in Hackensack (there were very few telephones on Ten Mile in those days) was flooded as seasonal residents called families to assure them they were safe, let them know how much damage was done, and tell them which insurance company to call.

THE WALKER NEWSPAPER called the storm a 'cyclone.' Residents who were involved felt it was a tornado; other referred to 'straight-line winds.' Whatever it was, it was a very powerful and never-to-be-forgotten storm.

OVER THE YEARS, there have been many bad storms on Ten Mile, but it was not until the summer of 2000 that a similar storm to the one in 1935 came across the lake to the Sand Beach. This time, however, the damage was minimal.

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Revised: June 30, 2016.

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Ten Mile Lake Association, Inc. P.O. Box 412, Hackensack, MN 56452