Sea Wing Disaster
An excursion Paddle-wheel steamboat, the "Sea Wing", with a barge
secured to its side, departed from Diamond Bluff, Wisconsin on July
13, 1890. They had a scheduled stop at Trenton, Wisconsin, and Red
Wing, Minnesota. Of the 179 passengers aboard, some preferred being
on the barge while others preferred the steamboat.
It was a typical summer day with a fair sky and a light breeze.
The cruise continued on to Lake Pepin and docked at the Minnesota
National Guard encampment, just south of Lake City, where the
passengers enjoyed the day.
The scheduled 6:00pm return trip was delayed until 8:00pm.
A severe storm developed near Central Point, just north of Lake
City. A crewmember, without orders, cut the lashings that secured
the barge to the steamboat. Suddenly, a tornado hit, overturning the
steamboat. The barge was blown to shore, saving the lives of
passengers aboard. Passengers who escaped free of the steamboat,
clung to the hull of the overturned ship. There were high winds,
lightning, and heavy rain. Then hail the size of eggs pelted
struggling passengers, killing many of them. Of the 97 deaths, 72
were from Red Wing. National Guardsmen assisted in the rescue
efforts. The tornado destroyed many buildings In Lake City.
Five Hempftling relatives from Red Wing perished In the Sea Wing
- Mrs. Ferdinand Hempftling (Mary Wheeler Hempftling) 43
- Fred Hempftling - 19 year old son
- Lizzie - 17 year old daughter
- Herman - 23 year old son of Herman and Rose Hempftling
- Mary -
wife of Herman