The White Cascade by Gary Krist

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: A horror movie in book form.

Quick synopsis: The story of Wellington avalanche of 1910 which left 96 people dead. It is the deadliest avalanche in American history.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: The disaster was so terrible that the town of Wellington quietly changed its name to Tye in order to avoid the awful association. It was later abandoned and burned to the ground.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: The winter in the area was so bad that another avalanche in Canada killed 63 more people.

My Take: This book is about a horrible disaster that very few people know about. I certainly didn’t until I was surfing Amazon’s recommendations and came across it. It also made Gary Krist one of my favorite authors.

In 1910, two trains were stopped at the railroad depot in Wellington, Washington. A blizzard, which lasted 9 days, snowed in both trains. The blizzard was so bad that on one day 11 feet of snow fell. Once the snow stopped, it was replaced by rain and then a lightning strike started the avalanche and well…

Before you accuse me of a “spoiler alert”, the basics of the disaster are not what you read the book for. Krist turns this into a book of suspense and then horror by creating palpable tension. You know the avalanche is coming. You feel the buildup just like the snow outside the trains. The aftermath is the horror movie.

Krist does something most authors are incapable of. He takes something you know and still makes you dread what is coming. You are almost surprised when the avalanche finally comes.

Verdict: One of the best disaster books I have ever read. I’ve read a lot.

If You Liked This Try:

  • Gary Krist, The Mirage Factory, Empire of Sin, City of Scoundrels
  • Charity Vogel, The Angola Horror
  • Gary Krist, The White Cascade
  • Michael Wallis, The Best Land Under Heaven
  • Gay and Laney Salisbury, The Cruelest Miles
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The White Cascade by Gary Krist
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