The 1900 Storm: Tragedy and Triumph

Courtesy of Rosenberg Library

One night of terror became
a lasting part of Galveston's identity


Story untold

The story of Galveston's tragedy can never be written as it is. Since the cataclysm of Saturday night a force of faithful men have been struggling to convey to humanity from time to time some of the particulars of the tragedy.

They have told much, but it was impossible for them to tell all, and the world, at best, can never know all, for the thousands of tragedies written by the storm must forever remain mysteries until eternity shall reveal all.

Perhaps it were best that it should be so, for the horror and anguish of those fatal and fateful hours were mercifully lost in the screaming tempest and buried forever beneath the raging billows.

Only God knows, and for the rest let it remain forever in the boundlessness of His omniscience.

But in the realm of finity, the weak and staggered senses of mankind may gather fragments of the disaster, and may strive with inevitable incompleteness to convey the merest impression of the saddest story which ever engaged the efforts of a reporter.

- As published Sept. 13, 1900, in The Galveston Daily News


The Daily News

A Galveston Daily News reporter in 1900 said the story of the Sept. 8, 1900, hurricane could never truly be written.

Linda Macdonald's grandfather said nothing could ever make him forget the sounds of that night.

And for many, no words could ever be spoken again about the deadly hurricane that reshaped the Gulf Coast forever.

As Galvestonians and the rest of the country mark the centennial of the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history, its story continues to linger in the minds of virtually everyone who lives along a coast. It is the reminder of what can happen when the winds blow and the tides rise along the hurricane-prone coasts of America.

Its tale of death, devastation and eventual recovery is close to the hearts of Galvestonians. And as its centennial anniversary comes and goes, and its stories are passed on again, the 1900 Storm will become part of the history of another generation.

'The storm'

For locals, any reference to "the storm" is obvious. If someone says a house survived the storm, there is no doubt it predates Sept. 8, 1900.

If people say they had family who died or survived the storm, there is no doubt that they are referring to a family history that goes back more than 100 years.

For in Galveston, "the storm" always refers to the hurricane that tore across Galveston on Sept. 8, 1900, and left the city in ruins.

Those who managed, either by sheer luck or the grace of God, to survive the storm faced the challenge of moving forward.

In his memoirs, meteorologist Isaac Cline referred to the morning after the storm as "a most beautiful day."

It was indeed a sunny, warm day, the kind of day people came to Galveston for at the turn of the century. But few visitors would walk the sandy shores for months after the infamous hurricane.

Instead, bodies of the dead that were improperly buried at sea washed ashore on those beaches, leaving even more treacherous work for the cleanup crews.

The storm left behind a legacy that extends across the country. As families moved from the island, they carried with them the story of that night. 




The Committee
Facts and Figures
Media Information


Published in conjunction with the City of Galveston 1900 Storm Committee.

© 2014 Galveston Newspapers Inc. All rights reserved.