Wellington avalanche

The Wellington avalanche was the worst avalanche, measured in terms of lives lost, in the history of the United States.

Just after 1 a.m. on March 1, as a result of a lightning strike, a slab of snow broke loose from the side of Windy Mountain during a violent thunderstorm. A ten-foot high mass of snow, half a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, fell toward the town. A forest fire had recently ravaged the slopes above the town, leaving very little to impede the avalanche.

The avalanche missed the Bailets Hotel (which also housed the town's general store and post office), but hit the railroad depot. Most of the passengers and crew were asleep aboard their trains. The impact threw the trains 150 feet downhill and into the Tye River valley. Ninety-six people were killed, including 35 passengers, 58 Great Northern employees on the trains, and three railroad employees in the depot.
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