Focus on Fostoria - Feb_16_03

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From Fostoria Focus
Feb. 16, 2003
Article by Leonard Skonecki
Fostoria, tornadoes and the Indian legend
    "Fostoria will never be hit by a tornado."
    Just about everyone who's grown up in Fostoria has heard about the old Indian legend that protects Fostoria from tornadoes   The legend has several variations.
    One says that Indians once camped in what is now Fostoria and Indians always camped in a safe place.
    Another says white settlers had already arrived here.  One night during a fierce thunderstorm, a group of Indians went to the farmhouse looking for shelter from the tempest.
    The farmer put up the entire group in his barn.  The Indians grateful for the safe heaven, gave the farmer and his neighbors a blessing protection them from storms as they had been protected.
    A third version says that one of the first white pioneers in this area saved the life of the son of an Indian chief.  The chief thanked him by offering a blessing on the land hereabouts.
    Such an encounter might have been possible.  Fostoria is said to have been situated on a Indian trail through the Great Black Swamp before it was drained.  Route 199 (old Route 23) supposedly follows the general track of the old trail.
    A fourth version says that part of Fostoria sits atop an Indian burial ground.  In itself, that wouldn't seem like a good basis for a legend.  There no doubt are many such burial grounds in that part of the US dubbed "tornado alley"
    Another variation has nothing to do with Indians.  It says Fostoria sits in a slight depression and that tornadoes, therefore scoot over the city without paying a call.  Does Fostoria sit in a depression?  Maybe.
    According t an Internet Website that provides detailed physiographical data for communities with airports, Fostoria is 752 feet above sea level.  That's lower than Tiffin in the east and Findlay to the southwest, so perhaps we are depressed.
    On the other hand, Fremont to the northeast and Bowling Green to the northwest are lower that Fostoria. so maybe we're not depressed.
    However, since the prevailing weather patterns typically come from the west, perhaps the slightly higher ground in that direction does somewhat shield us.  Who knows?
    However, weather experts say that while storms are affected by large geographical and forms like mountains, they aren't impressed with something as minor as the tiny difference in elevation between Fostoria and the surrounding countryside.
    Part of the depression theory says Fostoria's hollow is horse-shoe-shaped.  That may have some basis in fact.
    In 1940, the Fostoria Daily Review published a report on "The Geology of Fostoria."
    It's possible that in the geologic long-ago, Fostoria was covered by a lake created by meltwater left by the retreat of the glaciers.
    The high ground referred to by settlers in the 1830's as the "South Ridge" and "North Ridge" may have at various time marked shorelines. As the waves washed material upon the shore, those areas became more elevated.
    The North Ridge ran west from the Hospital toward the town of Van Buren.  The South Ridge ran along East Tiffin Street, then Columbus Avenue and out State Route 18 toward Tiffin.
    Combined with the higher ground in the direction of Findlay, these ridges could b thought to form a horseshoe around Fostoria.
    Fostoria isn't the only town with legends.  Xenia had a similar Indian legend prior to the 1974 tornado that destroyed so much of that Greene County city.
    Some times, actual events conspire to reinforce local folklore.  On June 8, 1953, Fostoria was hit head on by a terrific thunderstorm.  There was some damage, broken windows mostly, caused by lighting , strong winds and golf ball-size hail.
    The storm produced two tornadoes.  One veered northwest and touched down near Cygnet.  The other skirted Fostoria to the south and damaged barns in the vicinity off routes 224 and 587.
    Over the years, several people have reported that they've actually seen other storms, tornadoes or not split in two and miss Fostoria.
    In truth however, it's not very likely that the Nov. 10th 2002 tornado was Fostoria's first.  A corker of a windstorm pasted Fostoria April 28, 1951. That storm was reported as a "cyclonic disturbance."
    That storm struck around 9:30 p.m.  Rural residents west of town said that one cloud looked like a funnel and the storm was accompanied by lighting.
    Telephone and power lines were down.  Several cars were crushed by falling trees. The storm caused $250,000 damage, including $50,000 to the Home Window Co. on Sandusky Street when the cyclonic disturbance peeled off the roof.  The south wall of Walters Wheel Alignment was torn away by the storm.  On Main Street, the metal awning on the Ahlenius Co. was ripped away and smashed the storefront's plate glass window.
    More recently when a violent storm struck, May, 10 1973 a tornado was reported to have touched down on Walnut Street, though that was apparently unconfirmed.
    Legends are always entertaining, since they can't actually be proven.  However, they can be disproved and , sad to say  Nov. 10 2002 disproved ours here in Fostoria. Ohio