Disasters · United States

An 11-day heatwave starts, claiming a total of 2,000 lives

July 4, 1911
Northeastern United States
An 11-day heatwave affects the East Coast from Pennsylvania through Maine, killing approximately 2,000 people

The heat reached as high as 104 degrees in Boston, a record that still stands. Nashua, New Hampshire recorded a 106 degree high, while a thermograph in Hartford fluctuated between 110 and 112 in the shade.

The heat was so intense the tar in the roads began to bubble. Wooden boats waterproofed with pitch began to take on water as the pitch melted. Railroad lines were warped by the heat, causing at least one train to derail and fall 20 feet to the street below, killing 14 and injuring 47.

A 5-year-old fell from a second-story window while trying to catch a breeze. A 28-year-old man sleeping on a roof rolled over in his sleep and fell to his death. A man in Hartford was admitted to the hospital with a temperature of 109.4 degrees. Workers collapsed in fields or while digging holes. Some people were driven to suicide, including an elderly man named Jacob Seegar who shot himself with a revolver. At least 200 people died by drowning as they attempted to escape the heat by submerging themselves in water. Public decency (by that day’s standards) was not taken into consideration as people stripped away their layers to reduce their heat.

Over 11 days, approximately 2,000 people died due to the heat, including those who died in accidents.


Children lick blocks of ice to stay cool.


Children huddle in the shade.


People nap outside to stay cool.

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