Nov. 11 marks the 75th anniversary of the 1940 Armistice Day storm
Nov. 11 is a special day for the state’s waterfowl hunters. It is the 75th anniversary of the 1940 Armistice Day storm that hit the Midwest with a fury that resulted in the death of at least 13 Mississippi River duck hunters in Wisconsin alone.
The storm included gale-force winds and pelting rain that turned to sleet and snow. In total, 154 deaths were attributed to the storm, including 59 who died in shipwrecks on Lake Michigan.
Many hunters on the Mississippi River backwaters were victims of the storm. Near Ferryville, two southern Wisconsin hunters lost their lives. Kenneth MacFarlane, age 35, who operated the MacFarlane Pheasant Farm near Janesville, and his hunting partner Norman Schiefelbein, age 25, from Janesville, both died.
Madison duck hunter Bill Scheer, now deceased, was hunting that same area that day and reported seeing their boat go by. They later swamped and then drowned.
Scheer and his partner survived by staying out on islands overnight. They suffered from frozen feet but made it in the next morning and were taken to a hospital in La Crosse.
Two towns on the Mississippi River will hold events commemorating the famous storm, honoring the rescuers and remembering those who perished.
Joanne White, of the Ferryville Tourism Council, is coordinating a commemoration ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. in Ferryville. The event will take place at the pull-off where several other plaques are located on Hwy. 35 in the village of Ferryville. A lunch will follow in the village hall.
For information contact White at (608) 734-9018.
The Buffalo County Historical Society will have author John Steffes talk about the storm at the Alma Theatre on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. For information call (608) 685-6290.