Observing History at Fort Wayne

A first-order Weather Bureau Office was established at Fort Wayne in May 1911 at the southeast corner of Berry and Calhoun streets (then known as the Shoaff Building).  The first weather observation was taken at 7 a.m. on May 20 from the roof of the nine story building.

The office was moved on June 28, 1930 to the southeast corner of Berry and Ewing streets in the Wayne-Pharmacal Building, where observations were again taken on the roof.

On October 9, 1932 the office moved to the southwest wing of the third floor of the Federal Building at Harrison and Brackenridge streets with observations taken on the roof.  A building on the other side of Harrison Street tended to cause some eddy effects with the wind.

an airport station was established at the Smith-Baer Municipal Airport (as it was then called) August 1, 1939.  The downtown office continued to operate until April 1, 1941 when the two were consolidated at the airport, in the Administration Building.  Observations were taken from the ground, except wind readings were still taken from the roof.  Eddy effects were felt here too due to an area of woods to the east of the airfield.

On December 16, 1946 the office moved again, this time to the new Baer Municipal Airport (later Fort Wayne International Airport) in the west half of Building Number 27.

The office made it final move on March 13, 1953, to the second floor of the Terminal Building at Baer Field Airport.  It would remain there, in the same set of three rooms, for the next 45 years until the office closed March 17, 1998.

Temperature and precipitation records for Fort Wayne are unofficial for dates prior to May 1911.  Records from May 1911 to present are considered official and are recognized as such by the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

Timeline

1839 - 1873 -- Farmer recorded daily weather observations near Huntertown.
May 3, 1911 -- Office's first Official-in-Charge (OIC), W S Palmer, arrived to begin getting the new office in order.
May 20, 1911, 7:00am -- Fort Wayne office opens and takes its first observation.  Office located on the southeast corner of Berry and Calhoun streets.
April 1, 1912 -- One of the first observers arrived, with a salary of $1200 per year.
April 7, 1915 -- W S Palmer stayed home due to a sore throat.  Seven days later he was dead from diphtheria.  He was buried in Lindenwood Cemetery April 15.
May 7, 1915 -- Patrick McDonough began as the new OIC.
July 5, 1916 -- Messenger Boy Tom Costigan was absent from work -- he had accidentally shot himself in his left hand.  He returned to work July 28.
January 11, 1917 -- Tom Costigan arrived for work at 7am, left for lunch at noon, and never returned.  He resigned eight days later.
January 25, 1918 -- The thermometer was removed from the roof to test the temperature in the office.  The thermometer was then stolen.
April 8, 1918 -- Messenger Boy G J Phillips broke his right arm while cranking an automobile.
January 30, 1920 -- The flu kept Observer Charles O Schick absent from work from today through April 25.
May 27, 1927 -- OIC stayed home due to illness.  Mr McDonough died four days later, and was subsequently buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
June 27, 1927 -- New OIC, E L Hardy, arrived.
June 28, 1930 -- Office moved to southeast corner of Berry and Ewing streets.
June 1, 1932 -- E L Hardy left to be OIC at Santa Fe, New Mexico, and was replaced by B B Whittier of Royal Center, Indiana.  Mr Whittier would become the station's longest-running OIC.
October 9, 1932 -- Office moved to Harrison and Brackenridge streets.
February 9, 1933 -- 1,165 calls came in to the office during a severe cold wave.  B B Whittier called his son in to help, and Observer Roscoe E Leamon called in his wife to assist with the calls.
July 15, 1933 -- Roscoe E Leamon was relieved of his duties "for reasons of governmental economy".
January 23, 1936 -- 1,446 phone calls came in to the office during a severe cold wave, on one phone line.  207 calls came in between noon and 1pm.
May 23, 1938 -- B B Whittier was elected Vice President of the Fort Wayne Academy of Science.
August 1, 1939 -- Smith Field office opened.
January 19, 1940 -- 1,549 calls came in to the weather office during a cold wave.  257 calls were recorded between 7am and 8am.
April 1, 1941 -- Downtown office closed, consolidated with airport station.
December 16, 1946 -- Office moved to Building Number 27 at Baer Municipal Airport.
September 30, 1952 -- B B Whittier retired.
November 28, 1952 -- New OIC, Robert C Bordus, arrived.
March 13, 1953 -- Office moved to the Terminal Building at Baer Field Airport.
November 13, 1953 -- Oberver Kenneth E Newendorp left the weather office to become Fort Wayne's first TV weatherman, with WKJG-TV.
November 28, 1955 -- Robert Bordus left to be OIC at Yakima, Washington.
January 16, 1956 -- New OIC, Reinhart W Harms, arrives from Hartford, CT, to become the new OIC.
September 16, 1957 -- WSR-3 weather radar began operation.
November 20, 1958 -- OIC Harms transferred to Washington DC.
December 4, 1958 -- Clyde H Downes, who had been an employee at the office since June 24, 1942, became OIC.
May 24, 1968 -- OIC Downes transferred to Evansville.
June 3, 1968 -- Jesse J Halsey arrived as new OIC.
July 1, 1973 -- Mr Halsey retired.
September 4, 1973 -- New OIC, Evan L McColly, arrived from Indianapolis.
March 12, 1976 -- WSR-74C weather radar began operation.
September 1, 1977 -- Fort Wayne NOAA Weather Radio station went on the air.
May 13, 1980 -- OIC McColly was killed in a traffic accident near Hamlet, Indiana.  He was buried in Covington Memorial Gardens next to his wife, Mary, who had passed away 61 days earlier.
July 26, 1980 -- Morgan Ballard became the new OIC.
September 27, 1981 -- OIC Ballard transferred to Cape Hatteras, NC, and was replaced by Russell D Marshall.
March 17, 1998, 8:00am -- Office closed, consolidated with South Bend office and moved to Syracuse, Indiana


USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.