Friday, February 12, 2016

Satan's Storm, Kopperl Texas



Perhaps the most startling remains of the storm was in what had been the cotton patch at Pete and Inez Burns' farm. The cotton was about knee high and a 'lucious crop' the day before, according to the couple. The next morning all that was left were carbonized stalks peeping out of the ground. The corn fared little better.




That was caused by a freak storm, which broke over the small town of Kopperl, Texas, shortly after midnight on June 15, 1960. Within minutes, temperatures climbed to 140° Fahrenheit, brought on by superheated winds gusting at 75 miles per hour as a dying thunderstorm collapsed over the rural community. Locals called it Satan's Storm.




Who knows why, or on account of what wickedness, Satan was allowed to strike Kopperl and not much remains of the town today. A hardware store sits abandoned and slowly falling into ruin across from the train station, and a fire truck rusts in the morning Texan sun. All stricken, I imagined, by the superheated wind of Satan's Storm.




The town was named after Galveston railway tycoon Moritz Kopperl and founded in the 1880s as a Bosque County shipping point on the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe railway. At its peak in 1904 the town boasted 394 souls, it has some 200 today.




There may not be a lot to see in Kopperl and maybe there never was, but you can hear the birds sing and the air is clear.

God bless,

LSP


9 comments:

LL said...

Maybe this is why there's an urgent need to wage war on the weather and to pay the tax to defeat weather once and for all?

LSP said...

I hadn't thought of that but now it's clear. Kopperl didn't pay enough tax to fight off the weather. And now look at it, almost a ghost town.

Mattexian said...

Hadn't heard of this, even tho I have family up thataway. (I had to look it up, looks like it barely has a Methodist and a Baptist church. Funny thing: when I zoomed in, the map pin was centered on the Hippie Cousin Trading Company.)

There've been times in Central Texas that I would've sworn it was that hot, like walking into an oven whenever I stepped outside.

LL said...

If Kopperl could talk, the story wouldn't be particularly happy, would it? America's by-ways are interesting. It's always fun to take the road less traveled - especially fun to do it on a motorcycle.

LSP said...

It was new to me, too, Mattexian. And I was going to comment about the hippies -- there's a "food truck" outside of town (shut)...

LSP said...

The strange thing, LL, is that the town's still there and only down around 200 people from its heyday. Some of these little 19th C railway places are far more gone, but for sure, it's neat to drive out and explore.

Brighid said...

Great pics, always interesting to delve into the history of small town USA.

LSP said...

Thanks, Brighid. There's all kinds of off-the-path little towns here; I've made a kind of resolution to explore them!

Mattexian said...

Oh, boy, you go down the farm roads in Central Texas, you'll find a tiny town at every intersection. My maternal grandmother taught at the "little red schoolhouse" in Red Ranger, Bell Co., east of Temple. We visited there once, in the mid '80s, having lunch at the restaurant/ gas station/pool hall/ dry grocery (I still have the 16 oz. plastic Coke bottle that we bought there, somewhere buried at my mom's), and stopped to see the hysterical marker where the schoolhouse used to stand. Last time I was up thataway, after my aunt's funeral, we swung out to Zabcikville for breakfast, then headed south to Red Ranger. I has to back up, after realizing we'd passed what was left of that old all-in-one store, off a side road. I asked later, my mom said the couple that ran it retired, and nobody else wanted to run it. It's still a decent farming community, with what looked like welding shops set up for support, anything else they need is a quick enough drive north, south, or zig-zagging west.