Perhaps the most startling remains of the storm was in what had been the cotton patch at Pete and Inez Burns’ farm. The cotton was about knee high and a ‘lucious crop’ the day before, according to the couple. The next morning all that was left were carbonized stalks peeping out of the ground. The corn fared little better.
That was caused by a freak storm, which broke over the small town of Kopperl, Texas, shortly after midnight on June 15, 1960. Within minutes, temperatures climbed to 140° Fahrenheit, brought on by superheated winds gusting at 75 miles per hour as a dying thunderstorm collapsed over the rural community. Locals called it Satan’s Storm.
Who knows why, or on account of what wickedness, Satan was allowed to strike Kopperl and not much remains of the town today. A hardware store sits abandoned and slowly falling into ruin across from the train station, and a fire truck rusts in the morning Texan sun. All stricken, I imagined, by the superheated wind of Satan’s Storm.
The town was named after Galveston railway tycoon Moritz Kopperl and founded in the 1880s as a Bosque County shipping point on the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe railway. At its peak in 1904 the town boasted 394 souls, it has some 200 today.
There may not be a lot to see in Kopperl and maybe there never was, but you can hear the birds sing and the air is clear.