Hiding In Plain Sight: The Galveston Tribune, Saturday, September 8, 1900

By Casey Edward Greene, Rosenberg Scholar

Rosenberg Library staff recently made a remarkable discovery: an issue of the Galveston Tribune printed on Saturday, September 8, 1900, the day of the 1900 Storm. This issue is among thousands of Tribune issues which belong to Rosenberg Library and are being digitized and uploaded by the Portal to Texas History at the University of North Texas. Previously, staff recognized the Anonymous Letter (MS22-0045), penned by a nurse at John Sealy Hospital, as the Library’s sole account of the hurricane as it happened.

The Tribune issue evidently went to press during the early afternoon of that fateful Saturday. Excerpts from it speak of a storm in the Gulf of Mexico and the destruction wrought by its winds and waves.

Photo of Galveston harbor in the wake of the 1900 Storm Hiding In Plain Sight: The Galveston Tribune, Saturday, September 8, 1900
Galveston Harbor in the wake of the 1900 Storm. Galveston Photographic Subject Files: Storm of 1900 (G-1771.2_FF1_6), Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas. This image is taken from a stereo card. It shows wreckage and sailboats washed ashore.
The storm which the weather bureau predicted came to town last night, ripping, snorting and raging…

It is impossible to estimate the damage done by the storm. House after house along the beach front is being steadily undermined and at 7:30 o’clock this morning the first house was washed down…
The wind is tearing through the rigging of the small boats of the mosquito fleet and they are performing the most unheard of contortions…The wharves…are not faring so well. The great waves are tearing and racing under the wood aprons and in many places are ripping up the great four-inch planks like they were houses of cards...

The condition of the midway defies description…The little booths themselves are for the most part still standing, but every wave drenches them from floor to ceiling and they have all been deserted by their occupants…
One of the aprons of the pagoda gave way at 10 o’clock this morning, but the main building – though drenched by every wave – was standing like a rock.

At the time of the issue's printing, the beachfront was still relatively intact. However, later that afternoon, the Pagoda Bathhouse fell into the Gulf of Mexico. The Midway, an assemblage of concession booths which occupied the beach line, also was destroyed.

Photo of unidentified persons seated and standing in front of the Pagoda Bathhouse Hiding In Plain Sight: The Galveston Tribune, Saturday, September 8, 1900
Unidentified persons seated and standing in front of the Pagoda Bathhouse, July 9, 1890. Campbell-Fuller Family Collection, Special Collections Photographs #62, FF70, Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas. The pagodas lost in the 1900 Storm were built in 1887. They stood off the beach between 23rd and 24th Streets. An earlier iteration built in 1883 was lost in the 1886 hurricane.

The Galveston and Texas History Center is currently partnering with the University of North Texas to digitize the center’s collection of the Galveston Tribune. The University of North Texas is providing quality scans of the original papers at the Portal to Texas History. The Tribune digitization project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and Texas State Library and Archives Commission (Grant #TXT-20007, 2020 and Grant #TXT-21009, 2021).