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North Brevard History - Titusville, Florida


By Roz Foster

INTRODUCTION • • Cyclone • • Hurricane

The Star Advocate Newspaper published accounts of two storms that ravished the City of Titusville in June and July of 1926.

The first storm was in the form of a cyclone (today we refer to this type of storm as a tornado) hit the City of Titusville in June of 1926. It came from the southeast and cut a path in an east northeasterly direction. It dropped down on the northeast side of the FEC RR tracks, damaging businesses and private residences. It picked up and passed over the business section, causing only minor damage to businesses, but lowered again near the end of Main St. devastating City Dock and the fish houses.

The second storm was in the form of a hurricane with 50 mph gale winds and was reported as the most severe storm to hit the City of Titusville in ten years. The hurricane originated out of the Caribbean and kept on a northern course up the east coast of Florida, first hitting Miami and the Palm Beaches on Tuesday morning. The hurricane started with heavy rains in Titusville Tuesday afternoon with gale winds reaching 50-mph by 6:00pm. The storm reached a peak velocity of 75pmh between 11pm Tuesday and 1:30 Wednesday afternoon, with total rainfall reported at 7.78 inches.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage was done in the City of Titusville and Indian River City. Businesses along the river and downtown were wind and water damaged. Private residences also sustained wind and water damage as will as total lost, especially along the river. City utilities such as electricity and water were promptly restored. By Thursday crews of men were busy clearing the streets and making repairs. Building materials and roofing businesses were reporting a good business. Fortunately no one was seriously injured and there were no fatalities in either storm. The City of Titusville was getting back to "business as usual".

History repeats itself over and over again, and we learn from the past and become a stronger people. The following two articles are excerpts from those stories. There is one thing for sure, the weather will change and we will survive!

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The Scobie Docks during the 1926 hurricane.
Force of the hurricane from Scobie's Dock. Scobie Dock during the hurricane. Scobie Dock Debris from hurricane. Scobie Dock after hurricane.

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(June 22, 1926)

Damages approximating $10,000 were inflicted in Titusville about 3:30 o'clock Sunday afternoon when a cyclone cut a path in an east northeasterly direction across the city uprooting trees, unroofing houses and buildings, wrecking a garage and fish houses. No fatalities resulted but one or two were injured.

The twister came through Titusville from the southeast, hitting first just south of the ice plant. It raised at the FEC tracks and passed over the business section with little damage but lowered again on the city dock and wrecked two fish houses. The fact that many people were away from home on Sunday afternoon probably saved some lives. It is said that such a storm is very unusual for this section and that a cyclone has never been known to hit here before. It was evidently very local, as parties in other nearby counties knew nothing of the storm.

The new post office arcade on Main Street, which is being erected by the Indian River City Theatrical Enterprises, Inc., suffered damage to the extent of about $100 when the sky light was smashed by the young cyclone. The light had been temporarily placed and was not strong enough to resist the wind with a result that the woven wire glass was smashed. Two of the fancy bill boards in the lobby of the Van Croix Theatre were hurled into the street and broken up.

A boat house on the city dock belonging to George W. Scobie Jr. was completely demolished. The building was of frame with sheet metal covering and was blown off the piling. The Flood Fish Company house, a frame structure was almost completely wrecked, the south end being wrenched off and dropped into the river. This building housed several barrels of fish which were therefore saved from damage. Lightning struck the building of the Atlantic Fish Company, also on the city dock, but no material damage was done. V.T. Worley, who was working on the floor of the building when it was struck was slightly stunned and unable to get up for several minutes.

A 24-foot launch belonging to Tom Wilson was lifted from the water and overturned. Damage was slight. Harry Snow, who started across the dock was caught up by the twister and carried about a hundred feet down the dock and he sustained scratches and bruises. Two new skiffs which had been placed on the rear platform one of the buildings were lifted into the water without much damage. On the dock of the Gulf Refining Company a part of the sign board was blown off the building and other slight damage done. Telephone and light wires were broken down on both docks.

The Sanders and Wilder Garage on Tropic Street, just west of the railroad tracks was completely wrecked. W.S. Sanders and J.R. Wilder, who had only recently started in business there were fortunate enough to have no cars in the building, but John Boye who conducted a paint shop there had several cars badly damaged. The building was of frame with sheet metal covering and was twisted to pieces. The fact that the storm occurred on Sunday when the garage was closed probably saved a life or serious injury.

The home of M.V. Carlile on Canaveral Street, a large tow-story frame building was twisted so badly that it is practically wrecked. Two persons who were in the house at the time were only slightly injured as the building did not fall. A large cedar tree in front of the house was broken off just above the ground.

The private garage of Mr. and Mrs. A.H. Belote at the corner of Tropic and Canaveral Streets was twisted into a complete wreck and torn off the concrete foundation. The car was in use at the time and therefore saved from damage. Incidentally, a dog which occupies the garage, was in the car at the time of the storm, though it was customarily left at home.

The Western Union motor car shed on the railroad and a small FEC motor shed were twisted from their foundation and the Western Union shed was most damaged. A skeleton for a frame building, which has stood on Canaveral Street for about a year was blown down.

It is said that a small house further west which had been occupied by a woman was blown down and that the woman was injured by falling timbers. The home of P.E. Threlkeld on Olive Street, a salesman for the Standard Oil Company, was stripped of its roof. The house was even stripped clean of its rafters and the roof of the front porch. Nobody was injured as the family was away from the house at the time.

The business section of Titusville escaped the greater part of the storm. The roof of the studio of D.H. Halliday on Julia Street was slightly damaged and a tree was blown down in front of the Hill Hotel Apartments. Another large tree was torn down in front of the Arlington Hotel Annex on Hopkins Street. An awning was torn off the front of the Gift Shop and off the G.K. Rogers Store on Washington Ave. The awning on the building of Nelson-Bullock-Klingensmith was slightly torn. The windows of A.O. Clark's Plumbing were slightly damaged. The Florida Power and Light Company also met with damage through breaking of lines which kept Titusville in darkness from the time of the storm until about 8:30 that evening. A force of workmen was on the job soon after the wind subsided and had the current flowing in record time.

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(July 30,1926)

Sweeping with intense fury, the hurricane that was predicted from the lower East Coast from this city south, struck Titusville and Brevard County Tuesday afternoon. It was the most severe storm in more than ten years and one of the worst that ever visited here according to old residents.

Originating out of the Caribbean and sweeping past the Bahama Islands, it kept a northern course and struck the lower Florida east coast early Tuesday, making its way up the coast. It is stated that the worst effects of the hurricane were felt at Miami and the Palm Beaches. Starting here with a driving rain out of the northeast, its intensity increased as late afternoon came on, and by six o'clock it was a raging storm driven by a 50-mile gale. Apparently gathering momentum as it proceeded, the storm reached its height at between 11pm and 1:30am Wednesday. It is estimated that the velocity of the wind at that time was 75 miles per hour. Rain fell practically all thru the night, reaching a total precipitation of 7.78 inches according to W.J. Bailey, local observer.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage was done in this vicinity by the storm. The exact amount will never be known. It is estimated that the fruit crop alone suffered between $75,000 and $100,000 in damage, which is based on an estimated damage of 10 per cent to 15 percent of the crop for the coming season. Damage to fruit trees has not been estimated.

Plate glass windows in many building blocks were blown in by the gale, hundreds of dollars in damage was done to awnings about town, and with scarcely an exception every residence in the city and surrounding country suffered water and wind damage.

All communication to the south was cut off and many telephone lines in the city were put out of commission. Streets became lakes, and trees blocked the passage in all sections of the city. It is estimated that several hundred trees were uprooted during the gale.

Electric current was cut off Tuesday evening and was not restored until Wednesday afternoon. Considering the extreme intensity of the gale it is considered fortunate that no fatalities occurred.

The city was fast resuming its normal appearance Wednesday and Thursday. Gangs of men were at work on the streets and a large force was restoring communications by telegraph and telephone. The business area was being cleaned and repaired and water imprisoned on paved streets was released. Carpenters and plumbers were busy making repairs and the building material firms were reporting a good business in roofing and other supplies.

STORM BRIEFS: It has been stated that there is not a dwelling or business block in this vicinity that didn't leak some water or was not otherwise damaged by the storm.

Titusville was more fortunate than Orlando in the matter of electric current after the storm. That City was without electricity both Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Titusville's power plant restored service Wednesday afternoon.

City Water was practically turned off Wednesday morning, due to the fact that the power house of the water works was flooded and machinery water soaked. The engine was started again and water pressure resumed at about four o'clock Wednesday.

The trench-digging machine belonging to the J.B. McCrary Co. now being used to lay the storm sewer on Main St., came very near slipping into the ditch it dug Tuesday as the bank caved in. It was at work Thursday, considering delay having been caused by the filling in of the trench and the tile.

Metal Strips forming parts of the sidewalk coverings of some of the business houses were strewn about the streets Wednesday. The few who ventured out during the height of the storm early Wednesday morning stated that these sheet metal strips were being whipped about like paper by the wind.

One of the pillars forming the south entrance to Riverside Park was undermined by water and fell over Tuesday night. The heavy metal top covering of the City Water Tower was blown off, landing on a vacant lot just to the south of the tower.

A section of the roof covering on the McIntosh Garage was blown off during the storm. The fire truck which is housed in this building, is expected to be taken to the city hall within a few days as soon as the concrete floor is laid. New skylights in the new Post Office Building were blown away and considerable damage was done by the water which entered the openings. The east wall was also water soaked.

A large number of "hip" tiles were blown from the roof of the school building and considerable damage was done to the interior by water that was blown in during the storm.

Business should be brisk with awning makers. Among the business firms whose awnings were damaged or blown down were the following: H.J. Waters, Piggly Wiggly, A&P, Florida Power and Light, Losley Electric Shop, Duren Office Building, Senger's Shop and Dr. McLeod's office. The wooden awning on the Magnolia Theatre was also loosened from its supports. Business signs that suffered from the storm included the McIntosh Garage, Joe Johnson's, Acme Garage, A.W. Donaldson, Standard Oil Service Station, and Titusville Hardware. The new electric sign of the Magnolia Theatre was blown down and completely demolished. Folks who are anxious to have unsightly highway signs removed are saying that "it's an ill wind that blows nobody good." The wind has accomplished the desired results in many cases.

The A&P Store in the Allen Block was one of the first to feel the effects of the storm. The awning was twisted and blown down and several panes of plate glass smashed, allowing the water to soak the stock. The store did not open for business Wednesday.

One of the most disastrous results of the gale was the blowing down of the front brick wall of the business block occupied and owned by Ellis B. Wager. The sidewalk was covered with brick and other debris and the office of H.B. Smith on the second floor was thoroughly water soaked.

Part of the roof of W.J. Darden's Cocoa Cola Bottling Works was removed and his office furniture was water soaked. Ten or twelve windows were blown in at the Dixie Hotel and some of the roof was torn off. Water several inches deep came in the new Piggly Wiggly store thru the woodwork around the front windows and door. A pane of plate glass was broken during the storm. A plate glass window in the Magnolia Hotel next door to the Magnolia Theatre was blown out.

J.F. Morgan reports approximately $1000 damage to his property and building materials which suffered the effects of the storm at his various construction jobs. A half carload of cement was ruined by the rain. Water stood on the paving in front of the residence of J.F. Morgan on Washington St. all day Wednesday and Thursday. Many automobiles attempting to go thru were "stalled". The water was as high as the floor boards of some of the cars.

H. Crawford Ford, proprietor of Ford's Office Equipment Store, reports that two of his plate glass windows were broken. Considerable water was blown in around the windows in the Brevard Abstract Building and settled on the floor. Otherwise, the building did not suffer from the storm. Quite a number of tiles were removed from the roof of Duren's Filling Station at the corner of Garden St. and Washington Ave. Signs were also blown down in the vicinity of this corner.

Tile on the parapet walls at the Bayview Apartment were loosened by the wind and many of them blown away. Similar damage was done to the Ellis Apartment in Indian River City. One end of the garage at the Bayview Apartment collapsed during the storm. The storm did quite a bit of damage to the Hill Hotel Apartments Tuesday night, tearing away awnings and trees. Brick chimneys were toppled over during the storm at the Hotel Pines.

Several Titusville families took refuge at the Walker Hotel last Tuesday night during the storm, believing it to be a safer place to stay than their own house. W.E. Hendricks and family were forced out of their home in Dixie Heights during the storm and took refuge at the home of H.R. Shoup across the street.

Part of the roof covering the home of George C. Olmsted south of this city was torn away and considerable water damage was done to ceilings, walls, furniture, floors, rugs, and built-in fixtures. Wm. G. Warnock reported that some of the shingles in the roof of his residence were removed and a great deal of water came into the attic. Two of his boats tore loose from their anchors and drifted away. A sail boat belonging to George C. Olmsted capsized during the storm and partially filled with sand and water.

Large plate glass windows in the office of E.W. Ellis at Indian River City were broken and all the furniture and fixtures in the office were soaked with water. The new warehouse being erected by R. Nelson at Indian River City was damaged during the storm and part of two walls being blown down.

Several windows were blown in at the riverfront residence of W.I. Adams on First St. A great amount of damage to furniture and the interior of the house was occasioned by the water. Nearly all the fruit was blown from the trees and some of the latter were broken off. The E.B. Wager home on First St. suffered considerable damage from the wind and rain. Several windows were blown in allowing the rain to enter the house. J.E. Noble's garage at his home on Riverside Drive was moved four feet off its foundation during the storm. Brick chimneys were toppled over during the storm at the J.P. Brown residence on Riverside Drive. The concrete block double garage at the home of Bob Gaines Butt on Lemon St. was demolished. The car belonging to Gene Gunter was the only one in the building at the time and it was blown a distance of twenty feet. The small temporary house of J.D. Galusha was blown down during the storm Tuesday night, and the family forced to seek shelter elsewhere.

The great number of large trees uprooted in this vicinity during the storm are but further evidence of the fury of the gale at its height. Many large pines and oak between Titusville and Indian River City were blown down. Trees and limbs flown down on Pine St. between Hopkins and Palm. Blocked the road until workmen removed them Wednesday. Several large trees at the Pritchard residence at the corner of Washington Ave. and Pine St. were blown down or twisted off.


North Brevard History