WeatherTalk: Anniversary of a deadly Clay County tornado
The train had just left the Fargo station and was near Sabin when it encountered a severe thunderstorm.
Thursday, May 27, is the anniversary of the Empire Builder train tornado of 1931. Around 4:30 that afternoon, the Empire Builder, a transcontinental passenger train which had originated in Seattle and was heading toward Chicago, was struck by a tornado just east of Moorhead. The train had just left the Fargo station and was near Sabin when it encountered a severe thunderstorm. The train, and the people on board, first experienced heavy rain and gusty wind before the tornado struck it from the side.
The locomotive and the coal-tender, the two heaviest cars, remained on the track after the storm. Several of the train's coach cars were blown off the tracks by the storm. Of the 117 passengers on the train, 57 were injured, with one death reported. The tornado was reported to be around a quarter mile wide at times and produced damage from Rustad, Minn., north/northeastward to near Felton before finally weakening near Fertile.