Vegetables & Victory: Why Gardening Was So Popular in WWII America

Wed, Feb 17, 1943 – 5 · The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, South Carolina) · Newspapers.com


Would you “garden for victory?” During World War II, Americans were encouraged to grow vegetable gardens to help with the home-front war effort. These “Victory Gardens” flourished around the country during the war years, providing an estimated 40 percent of the fresh vegetables Americans ate.

Curious about these gardens? We looked through WWII-era papers on Newspapers.com to learn more about wartime Victory Gardens in the United States!

Victory Gardens before WWII

America’s World War II Victory Gardens were actually a revival of a World War I gardening effort supported by the U.S. government. Starting in 1917, the government had successfully encouraged Americans to grow vegetables at home to free up food for soldiers and allies overseas. When the war ended, however, many people no longer saw a reason to maintain their gardens.

Thu, Jun 6, 1918 – Page 2 · San Bernardino News (San Bernardino, California) · Newspapers.com


But when war broke out again in Europe in 1939, some Americans began to predict there would again be a need for more vegetable gardens, even though the United States hadn’t officially entered the war yet. Interest in wartime gardens began to grow, despite some opposing arguments that they were unnecessary and potentially harmful to farmers’ livelihoods.  

Revival of Victory Gardens

Then, with the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the beginning of food rationing shortly afterward, war gardens began taking off in the United States. 1942 saw a sharp increase in the number of newspaper articles about growing wartime gardens—usually called Victory Gardens but also sometimes referred to as “war gardens” or “gardens for defense.”

Many of the newspaper gardening articles from the spring of 1942 focused on the need for efficiency. Numerous articles emphasized that Americans should avoid repeating the “mistakes” of World War I, when people were so enthusiastic about war gardens that they tore up lawns and parks to put in vegetable gardens without considering factors like soil quality. Some articles even discouraged inexperienced gardeners from planting Victory Gardens altogether to avoid inefficiency and waste.

Sun, Jan 18, 1942 – 43 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) · Newspapers.com


Victory Gardens Reach their Peak

But as World War II lengthened, even amateur gardeners were encouraged to grow Victory Gardens, and 1943 and 1944 saw home vegetable gardens reach their peak popularity.

During this time, Victory Gardens were often portrayed as a patriotic duty. Americans were told that growing a vegetable garden would help free up food for soldiers, and that eating local produce would reduce the strain on America’s transportation network. In many cases, Victory Gardens served as morale boosters as well, helping home gardeners feel they were contributing to the war effort.

Tue, Mar 30, 1943 – Page 6 · McComb Daily Journal (McComb, Mississippi) · Newspapers.com


As Victory Gardens grew in popularity, cities and states created their own committees and initiatives to support local gardening efforts, which were now actively encouraged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and President Roosevelt. Some cities offered lower water rates for Victory Gardens, while other communities sponsored Victory Garden contests.

Newspapers published a huge amount of gardening content during these years—from how-to guides, to garden diagrams, to planting schedules. Newspapers also published helpful columns about how to can and preserve Victory Garden produce, and the Boston Globe even offered to test people’s garden soil for free. Inevitably, wartime gardening made its way into newspaper ads as well—with Victory Garden imagery and slogans being used to sell products from seeds to beer.

Wed, Mar 31, 1943 – 4 · Lancaster New Era (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


Of course, not everyone had room to grow a backyard garden. City dwellers grew gardens where they could, from window boxes to rooftops. Other Victory Gardens were grown at schools and workplaces, or in community plots established both in and outside of cities. Some newspapers even pitched in to try to help people find places to plant gardens by publishing surveys to identify unused plots.

Victory Gardens’ Decline

1945 was the beginning of the end for Victory Gardens. With the war winding down, fewer people saw a need for home gardens, even though the government was still encouraging people to plant them. And once the war ended, Americans planted even fewer Victory Gardens in 1946 and 1947.

But wartime gardens had produced very real results. In 1942 there had been an estimated 16 million Victory Gardens in the United States; by 1944, this number had grown to 20 million. And these home gardens had produced a huge amount of food each year—roughly 8 million tons, or more than 40 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables eaten by Americans.

Sun, Apr 11, 1943 – Page 15 · Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) · Newspapers.com


Do you have any memories or family stories about Victory Gardens? Share them with us in the comments!

Learn more about WWII Victory Gardens by searching Newspapers.com! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

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Memorial Day 1945

On May 30, 1945, the United States celebrated a Memorial Day full of conflicting emotions. The euphoria over the recently declared Allied victory in Europe brought hope to this war-beleaguered nation. There was also optimism that the war in Japan was winding down, bringing an end to WWII.

Fort Lauderdale Daily News – May 30, 1945

On the other hand, millions mourned their war dead, many soldiers were still missing or being held POW, and the country was reeling from the sudden death of wartime president Franklin D. Roosevelt weeks earlier. Let’s take a look at some historic newspaper clippings from Memorial Day 1945 to see how Americans honored their veterans.

Tucson, Arizona: Four-year-old Betty Jo Pacheco laid a wreath on the grave of her father, Pvt. Robert M. Pacheco, who was killed three months earlier in Germany. She was surrounded by veterans of four wars, including 105-year-old Civil War veteran Francis Mengoz.

Arizona Daily Star – May 31, 1945

Wilmington, Delaware: Memorial Day headlines brought happy news to Delawareans when The News Journal reported that seven POWs from Delaware had just been freed.

Munich, Germany: In Munich, American flags flew as soldiers from the 45th Infantry Division gathered at Konigsplatz to hear Memorial Day remarks from American military leaders. The square was the scene of an elite military parade several years earlier for Hitler and Mussolini.

Columbus, Indiana: Even with the war winding down, some were still being called to serve. On May 30, 1945, the Columbus Herald reported that William H. Burton had just been drafted into the Navy. The father of five served six months before being discharged.

Okinawa, Japan: There was intense fighting on Okinawa, and Marines from the First Marine Division moved towards Shuri ridge. Richard P. Ross, who had been aboard the USS Oklahoma when she sank at Pearl Harbor, braved sniper fire and hoisted a flag above a medieval fortress called Shuri Castle

San Pedro, California: In California, the San Pedro News-Pilot published a photograph of the fresh graves around the world and spoke of the millions of heartsick Americans. The paper noted that even though it was a holiday, work continued in war plants and government offices.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Capt. Joseph T. Marnell, serving in a medical detachment, sent a letter to his wife back home. It was printed on Adolf Hitler’s stationery and read, “You can see by this very personal stationery that conditions have improved some. I picked this up in Adolf’s private apartment in Munich when we arrived recently.”

Chicago Tribune – May 28, 1945

Rochester, New York: Sgt. James Ecksten, who had just been discharged from the war, rode alongside his great-grandfather, Civil War veteran William A. Hard, in the Memorial Day parade.

To see more headlines from Memorial Day 1945, search Newspapers.com today!

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Spring Cleaning Used to be Unavoidable—Here’s Why

Sun, Mar 22, 1931 – 3 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com


Do you feel the call of spring cleaning when the weather starts to warm up? While today it’s largely personal preference whether we spring clean or not, it was a practical necessity up until about 100 years ago.

Why Was Spring Cleaning Necessary?

Until the 20th century, homes in the United States were typically heated with wood or coal during the winter, and candles and oil lamps were used to light rooms at night—all of which left soot and smoke coating walls, windows, and other surfaces. Few roads were paved back then, so dirt, manure, and other detritus would get tracked indoors. Bugs and vermin were a problem in many homes as well.

Families did their best to keep their homes clean during the winter months, but cold temperatures and bad weather prevented a thorough cleaning, since many cleaning methods necessitated taking furnishings, carpets, and bedding outdoors. So when spring came with its sunshine and warmer weather, it was time to clean the home of the accumulated winter grime.

Sun, Mar 26, 1905 – Page 59 · Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia) · Newspapers.com


Depending on the area of the country, spring cleaning was typically done during April or May, when the weather was warm enough that the family would no longer need a sooty fire or stove to heat their home. The weather also needed to be pleasant enough that household furnishings could be shifted outdoors to be cleaned and windows opened to air out the home.

What Did Spring Cleaning Involve?

Spring cleaning in past centuries was labor intensive, and the task fell almost exclusively to women—who either did the cleaning themselves or (income permitting) oversaw the work of others. The children of the house were often also pressed into service, but husbands were not usually involved due to traditional gender roles.

Common spring cleaning tasks of the time included:

These spring cleaning tips we found in 19th-century papers on Newspapers.com give a sense of what the process was like during that era:

Sat, Jun 12, 1869 – 4 · New England Farmer (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com
Sat, May 13, 1871 – 3 · Aurora of the Valley (Newbury, Vermont) · Newspapers.com
Thu, May 23, 1872 – 6 · The Clinton Public (Clinton, Illinois) · Newspapers.com


Why Did Spring Cleaning Change?

In the late 19th century and early 20th, spring cleaning began to change. The invention of modern appliances—notably the vacuum cleaner—and mass-produced cleaning products made routine cleaning easier. And the widespread adoption of electricity, gas furnaces, central air, and paved roads greatly reduced the indoor dirt and grime that had made a thorough spring cleaning so essential.

By the mid-20th century, spring cleaning had become more of a tradition than a necessity in the U.S.—a reality that was reflected in a number of newspaper columns that questioned the need for an annual spring cleaning.

Thu, May 16, 1940 – 2 · The Gotebo Record (Gotebo, Oklahoma) · Newspapers.com


Today, spring cleaning remains a part of American culture, with a 2019 survey revealing that 77 percent of Americans commit to spring cleaning every year. Are you one of them? Let us know in the comments!

Learn more about spring cleaning history by searching Newspapers.com! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

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7 Incredible V-E Day Front Pages from WWII America

On May 7–9, 1945, exultant crowds poured into streets across many Allied nations to celebrate the news of Germany’s surrender and the Allied victory in Europe. For the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, we used Newspapers.com to discover how this landmark moment was covered by papers in the United States. Keep reading to see some of these incredible front pages!

May 7, 1945

News about the end of the European war broke in the U.S. on Monday, the 7th. So in many of the papers from that day, news of the German surrender and the end of the war in Europe were understandably the biggest headlines.

Mon, May 7, 1945 – Page 1 · The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) · Newspapers.com
Mon, May 7, 1945 – 1 · Monrovia News-Post (Monrovia, California) · Newspapers.com


However, although Americans heard about the surrender on the 7th, V-E Day wouldn’t officially be held be until the next day (the 8th) in order to coordinate with other Allied nations. So stories of President Truman postponing V-E Day were also major news on the 7th.

Mon, May 7, 1945 – 1 · The Dispatch (Moline, Illinois) · Newspapers.com


May 8, 1945

Since the biggest news had broken on the 7th, front pages from the 8th often reiterated victory news and proclaimed that it was V-E Day.

Tue, May 8, 1945 – 1 · Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas) · Newspapers.com
Tue, May 8, 1945 – 1 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Another common headline from the 8th was about President Truman’s V-E Day speech, which emphasized that although Germany had surrendered, the war with Japan was far from over.

Tue, May 8, 1945 – Page 1 · The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) · Newspapers.com
Tue, May 8, 1945 – Page 1 · Muncie Evening Press (Muncie, Indiana) · Newspapers.com


Want to see more news about V-E Day in 1945? Visit our V-E Day Topic Page or search Newspapers.com to see how papers across the United States, England, Canada, and Australia covered it!

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Find Your WWII Soldier’s Story in Newspapers!

On May 8th, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, the formal acceptance of Germany’s unconditional surrender in Europe. To honor the legacy of our WWII soldiers, we want to help you tell their story. Historical newspapers are a great way to research your WWII veteran. Here are some tips and tricks for researching your soldier’s story in Newspapers.com.

  1. Begin your search by name. Just enter your soldier’s name in the search tab. You can narrow the results by refining dates, locations, or keywords. Maybe the local paper ran a story about your soldier enlisting. This can provide valuable clues about which branch of the service your soldier served in. You might even learn what regiment or company he or she belonged to. Hometown newspapers often reported when a local soldier was injured or killed, home on leave, or discharged. If multiple siblings served from one family, search all names, including the parents. Newspapers often include photographs of soldiers too. If you don’t find your soldier in a name search, don’t despair, there are some other tricks!
  2. Search for specific battles. If you know your soldier fought in a specific battle, use that battle as your search keyword. You might not find your soldier specifically mentioned, but others provided first-hand accounts. These details can help you construct a story.
  3. Search by battalion, division, company, name of a Navy ship, etc. Did your soldier’s company/battalion have a famous nickname? Or do you know the name of the commanding officer? These searches can also provide valuable results. Newspapers tracked the movements of our soldiers and reported daily on skirmishes and battles. You can create a timeline of your soldier’s movements by tracking those stories.
  4. Search by date. If you have records showing your soldier was wounded or killed on a specific date, search for battles fought at that same time and place.
  5. Search by location. Do you know, for example, that your soldier was part of the Japanese occupation force? Use that in your search term. When we searched that term and filtered the dates from 1944-1947, it returned more than 300,000 search results. Do you have a Navy veteran that served in the Solomon Islands? You could search “Asiatic-Pacific Theater”. The more details you have, the more you can narrow your search.
  6. Personal interviews. Over the years, many of our WWII veterans have given lengthy interviews in newspapers. These first-hand narratives provide amazing insight into what our soldiers experienced. Expand your search beyond the war years, some of these soldiers didn’t share their story for decades.
  7. Search the names of fellow soldiers. Do you have records, photographs, or journals that mention the names of soldiers that served with your ancestor? Research those soldier’s names for more detail.
  8. Search post-war clubs and associations. Many soldiers joined clubs, fraternal organizations, and associations after returning from their service. For example, the American Legion changed its charter after WWII to allow returning soldiers to join its ranks.
  9. Search obituaries. Often the families of deceased soldiers shared details and stories of their military service in their obituaries, even decades later. Even if you are not related to this person, their obituary may shed light on your own ancestor’s service.

Preserving the story of our WWII veterans is a great way to honor their service! Please share your finds in the comments below. Get started searching your WWII veteran on Newspapers.com today!

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New California Paper!

Sacramento is the capital city of California and we’re happy to announce that we’re adding The Sacramento Bee to our archives. The Bee is the longest-running newspaper in Sacramento’s history and the flagship paper of McClatchy, the second-largest local news company in the U.S. James McClatchy was an Irish immigrant and young journalist when the lure of the California Gold Rush brought him West. He became the second editor of The Bee, taking over just days after the paper began publication in 1857.

California was part of Mexican territory until the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo annexed California as part of the United States. In 1848, when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, about 45 miles outside of Sacramento, thousands converged in the area. Many of them passed through Sacramento and the city experienced tremendous growth.

When The Bee began publishing in 1857, McClatchy aimed to provide an independent newspaper that championed the interests of the people. The paper recorded the growth of this area, including celebrating the starting point for the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1863.

When a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit San Francisco in 1906, residents of Sacramento felt the shaking and observed the dome of the Capitol building sway back and forth. The front page of The Bee contained numerous updates throughout the morning as the extent of the damage became more clear.

April 18, 1906

During the Great Depression, high unemployment rates resulted in a rising rate of homelessness in the city. Some destitute families banded together and formed tent cities called Hoovervilles, named after President Hoover, whom they blamed for their economic situation. Although not officially recognized, these shantytowns located along the Sacramento River were overseen by elected officials and city charters. The cities, however, lacked systems for waste removal and officials found residents living in squalor and ordered them closed. Though evicted, some continued to camp out along the river throughout the 1930s.

Residents of Hooverville Seek Food – October 7, 1931

The Sacramento Valley’s fertile soil brought many farm workers to the area. In 1965, Filipino American grape workers organized a strike to protest poor pay and working conditions. The protestors joined forces with Latino farm workers led by Cesar Chavez. Together they walked 300 miles to Sacramento to raise awareness and pressure growers into changes. The two groups formed the United Farm Workers. Their strike lasted five years but eventually led to growers agreeing to better pay and working conditions for all farm workers.

If you have ancestors from the Sacramento area, The Bee is a great place to search for things like obituaries, birth announcements, wedding announcements, and death notices. The social pages also tracked news from communities like Napa and Chico. Start searching The Sacramento Bee archives today on Newspapers.com!

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Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary

April 22, 2020, is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Inspired by the anti-war movement of the 1960s, this now-global effort was first introduced by Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970. Nelson encouraged teach-ins on school campuses in the wake of rising awareness about pollution and its effect on public health and the planet, and millions of Americans joined in for the cause with classes, demonstrations, and projects.

“Good Earth: Across country, millions plead that it be rescued” Thu, Apr 23, 1970 – Page 1 · The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) · Newspapers.com

The first Earth Day drastically raised public interest in conserving the environment and reducing pollutants. It’s considered to have begun the modern environmental movement. As the clipping below states, it is now the largest civic observance in the world.

Earth Day world's largest civic observance, new global theme each year provides focusEarth Day world’s largest civic observance, new global theme each year provides focus Sat, Apr 13, 2013 – C1 · Fort Collins Coloradoan (Fort Collins, Colorado) · Newspapers.com

Now a global effort each April, Earth Day is given a focused theme. The theme for 2020 is “climate action,” with a focus on digital involvement. Have you participated in observances before? How do you join in?

Find more clippings and history about Earth Day through the years with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Reunited Against All Odds: A Civil War Love Story

Occasionally we come across an old newspaper story that is so amazing, we can’t help but wonder if it’s really true. This story about Civil War soldier Otis H. Burton seems to fall into that category. After a little fact-checking, however, all available records seem to support this sweet love story. With all the heavy news lately, sit back and enjoy this 19th-century tale with miraculous twists and a happy ending!

Otis H. Burton was born in Bangor, Maine in 1837. As a young man, he decided to move west and seek his fortune. He ended up in Missouri where he fell in love with an accomplished young woman named Susan Mary Payne. Before he had a chance to profess his love to her, she moved to another state. They soon lost touch.  

About this time, the Civil War broke out and Otis enlisted in the 25th Missouri Regiment of the Union Army. While serving in the war, he was severely wounded and not expected to survive. He wrote a farewell letter to his mother but against all odds, he eventually recovered. After feeling well enough to rejoin his regiment, Otis joined them on a mission to transport supplies across the plains. During the journey, a band of Native Americans attacked the party, killing everyone in the company except for Otis, who received severe wounds.

Otis was taken prisoner and led back to the tribe’s mountain home in the Southwest. He gradually recovered from his wounds, adapted to his new surroundings, and started to gain the trust of his captors. All the while he was looking for an opportunity to escape.

One day, after about six months in captivity, tribe members returned to camp with several stolen ponies. Otis observed the horses and noticed one that was of a high breed and showed promise for speed and endurance. Otis cared for the horse, petting and feeding the animal. Eventually, they allowed him to ride the horse.

During one ride, Otis ventured out further than usual. Seizing the opportunity, he took off at top speed, riding furiously with his captors in close pursuit. Finally evading them, Otis rode hard for three days before finally clearing hostile territory.

In the distance, Otis saw smoke rising from the chimney of a small house. He shouted for joy, glad to finally be free. He approached the house and made his way to the door. After knocking, the door opened and there stood Susan Mary Payne, his love from Missouri. After the initial shock, Susan shared her story. She had married a Confederate officer, Joseph L. Robey, who was killed during the war. She was now living alone. Otis shared his story and the two happily reunited. They started to rebuild the relationship began so many years earlier in Missouri.  

In 1870, Otis and Susan married and lived out their lives in Texas. Otis passed away in 1898. To see more stories like this, search Newspapers.com today!

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Recipes & Rationing: How WWII Changed the Way Americans Cooked

Mon, May 15, 1944 – 10 · The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington) · Newspapers.com


WWII Food Rationing Begins

After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States instituted rationing. Sugar was the first food item to be rationed (starting in May 1942), but coffee, processed and canned foods, meat, cheese, and butter, oils, and fats were also rationed at various times between 1942 and 1945.

To buy rationed food items, families needed to present their grocer with the correct stamps from their government-issued rationing books—in addition to paying the cost of the product. But having enough rationing stamps didn’t guarantee they would be able to purchase an item, since local and national shortages limited availability of certain foods.

Newspapers Become a Rationing Resource

With the changes in food availability, newspapers were an important resource for home cooks as they tried to navigate the new culinary landscape. Americans turned to their local papers to find the current rationing schedules, which showed when certain foods would be rationed and how many (and what kind) of stamps were needed to buy them.

Sat, Jul 15, 1944 – Page 5 · The New York Age (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com


Newspapers also published a wide variety of tips for cooking under rationing. They published column after column about how cook with reduced amounts of rationed ingredients and educated readers about which ingredients could be used as substitutes. Honey and corn syrup, for instance, were commonly suggested replacements for sugar.

Wartime Recipes in the Paper

But where newspapers really shone during rationing was as a source of recipes. Although newspapers had a long history of publishing recipes before World War II, during the war they focused on helping Americans cook according to what foods were available. Newspapers printed recipes that used smaller amounts of rationed ingredients, for example, as well as ones that incorporated local and in-season products. Recipes published during this time often also focused on dishes that were cost effective (since some food prices increased) and nutritious (because rationing often meant a change in diet).

Thu, Sep 30, 1943 – 12 · Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


Wartime recipes were in high demand, so many newspapers asked readers to send in their favorite recipes or even held contests for the best wartime dishes. Food companies jumped on the bandwagon as well, publishing ads that included rationing recipes using their products.

Recipe Examples

Food rationing was such a part of American life during World War II that it’s easy to find wartime recipes and tips in newspapers from that period.

This roll recipe from 1942, for example, calls attention to their reduced amount of sugar.

Sun, May 31, 1942 – Page 14 · The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) · Newspapers.com


In 1943, this cake recipe eliminated sugar altogether and used corn syrup as a sweetener instead.

Fri, Aug 20, 1943 – Page 14 · The Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) · Newspapers.com


This “chiliburger” recipe helped make the most of rationed meat.

Fri, Oct 2, 1942 – 15 · The Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tennessee) · Newspapers.com


And this jam recipe from Hawaii emphasizes the importance of using local produce during wartime.

Thu, Jun 25, 1942 – 7 · Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Honolulu, Hawaii) · Newspapers.com


If you’re interested in more rationing recipes, take a look at these examples:

Do you have any family recipes from World War II or stories of life under rationing? Share them with us in the comments. And let us know if you try any of the recipes!

Find more rationing recipes by searching Newspapers.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

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April 29, 1903: The Frank Slide

In the pre-dawn hours of April 29, 1903, a huge landslide broke loose from Turtle Mountain in Alberta, Canada. Residents in the town of Frank heard rumbling and wondered if there had been an explosion in a nearby coal mine. Within minutes, approximately 90 million tons of limestone crashed down, entombing more than 90 of the town’s residents under 150 feet of boulders.

Calgary Herald – April 6, 1906

Turtle Mountain is located in a picturesque section of Crowsnest Pass in southwest Alberta. In the 1880s, settlers discovered a seam of coal in the area. In 1901, American entrepreneurs Henry Frank and Sam Gebo opened a coal mine, and shortly after the town of Frank became the first incorporated village in the Pass. By 1903, 1000 people lived in Frank and a dozen nearby coal mines were operating.

Coal miners honeycombed tunnels through Turtle Mountain without realizing that they were further weakening the already unstable geological structure of the mountain. Layers of sedimentary rock had been tilted to almost vertical over time and erosion in the lower part of the mountain created a dangerous overhang of rock on top. For millennia, water seeped into cracks in the rock. Repeated freeze-thaw cycles caused the cracks to widen, creating more instability.

When the residents of Frank went to bed the night of April 28, 1903, they had no idea of the power of nature about to be unleashed in their town. At 4:10 a.m. on the morning of April 29th, a loud rumbling awakened them. The sound was reportedly heard by residents living nearly 100 miles away. An avalanche of rock broke free from the mountain and careened down, traveling over 180 miles per hour. It reached the valley floor in just 100 seconds

The Province, Vancouver, British Columbia – December 14, 1946

George Hie was a miner in Frank and recalled hearing a cracking noise coming from the mine about two weeks before the slide. “The pressure was so great at this place that a six-inch timber was broken,” he said. The morning the Frank Slide broke loose, Hie was sleeping in his bunk. “I was thrown violently out by pressure. I ran outside and was startled to see a gigantic mountain passing down only twenty-five feet away from me.” After the dust settled, Hie saw the corner of a house protruding from the rocks. He heard a cry for help and frantically helped dig out a trapped woman. Her two children died. Later, Hie found the bodies of two boys about 200 feet from their cabin. “They were clad in pajamas. Their bodies never had a mark on them.” Hie wondered if they had time to run or if the force of the blast carried them there. 

The Vancouver Sun – August 12, 1944

Three young girls were among the survivors, dug out alive hours after the slide. Sadly, their parents and brothers perished in the disaster. The three sisters were adopted by separate families and reunited for the first time in 41 years in 1944. The bodies of most of those killed remain buried under tons of rock in Frank, and the scar from the rockslide serves as a visible reminder of the tragedy that occurred 117 years ago this month.

If you would like to learn more about the Frank Slide, search Newspapers.com today!

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