An omnipotent display

Published on
October 14, 2022
Read time
An omnipotent display

Hello neighbor!

Sure is some weather we’re having this week; I kept saying last month with every snowstorm that ‘surely this is the last gasp of winter,’ but waking up to snow last Saturday morning  — even if only a dusting – reminded me again just how long a Maine winter can last. It reminds me of last year, when we had our first snow come by October. It reminded me also of some of the really historic storms we’ve had hereabouts in the last 150 years, one of which came in 1875 and made such a display that later accounts of it later appeared in some of the Portland dailies. Today’s account, to break the story, comes from the Bridgton News of May 14 of that year, and concerns the falling of a tremendous thunderbolt upon the farm of Christopher Dyer, a farmer in the Hio vicinity, who later removed to Cape Elizabeth. This storm is one of many noted lightning storms in Bridgton history, and just off the top of my head I can recall hearing of several other incidents along the High Street corridor, and one memorable encounter at the old Train Depot, which might be worth telling about in the coming months. For now, let’s give thanks that our weather this year, for all its eccentricity, isn’t nearly as wild as it used to be ‘in days gone by.’

“Last Saturday night, at about midnight, our village was visited by the first thunder storm of the season. The introductory overture was a clap of thunder, so unusually loud and terrific, that nearly everybody in this place, and also in other parts of the town, was startled from sleep, thinking for a moment that it was an earthquake, or the fall of some immense body upon the house-top or some like dire event. Such a peal, we venture to say, has not been heard in this section for years. The next day it was reported that lightning had struck a tree on the farm of Christopher Dyer, about a mile northwest of this village, and had performed astonishing freaks, in its immediate vicinity. This was corroborated by several persons who visited the scene and gave a glowing account of the strange doings of the thunderbolt. The following is a correct statement of the case.

The tree struck is a medium sized pine, some thirty-five or forty feet high, and standing alone in the pasture.  The lightning struck the trunk about twenty-five feet from the base, and descending split or cracked it, tearing off a strip of bark nearly two inches wide.  Reaching the earth it made an emphatic display of its wondrous powers. To the beholder, at a short distance, the ground all around looks as if plowed or dug up, and on a near inspection appears precisely as if a party of men had been at work, digging round the base of the tree, removing huge rocks and a large amount of dirt, cutting off all the larger roots on the south and east and making an excavation three or four feet wide and over two feet deep, and extending half way round the southern base. Here the current appears to have divided, and radiating to the northwest, north, northeast, and east, plowed four distinct furrows or ditches, the largest fifty feet in length, two to three feet deep, the others of less size but nearly as long. The ground is torn up slightly in other places. The electric force also cut off a huge piece of the butt, or main root, and hurled it several feet, and covered a board fence nearby with dirt for a distance of some twenty feet. All who have visited the scene concur in pronouncing it an extraordinary evidence of Omnipotent power, and well worth the trouble of a visit.”

Well worth the trouble of telling about, too.

Till next time!