Old Print Article: “Wolves Kill Bridal Party,” New York Times (1911)

“It is asserted that the women occupants were thrown out to be devoured by the animals.”

Starving wolves crossed tracks with a wedding party traveling on sleds in snowy St. Petersburg in what feels like a ferocious folktale but was reported as fact in an article in the March 19, 1911 New York Times. The story:

St. Petersburg — Tragic details of the fate of a wedding party attacked by wolves in Asiatic Russia while driving on sledges to the bride’s house, where a banquet was to have taken place, are now at hand, and in their ghastly reality surpass anything ever imagined by a fiction writer.

The exceptionally severe weather has been the cause of many minor tragedies in which the wolves have played a part, but perhaps none has ever been known so terrible as that now reported, since in this instance no fewer than 118 persons are said to have perished.

A wedding party numbering 120 persons set out in thirty sledges to drive twenty miles from the village of Obstipoff to Tashkend.

The ground was thickly covered with snow, and the progress was necessarily delayed, but the greater part of the journey was accomplished in safety.

At a distance of a few miles from Tashkend the horses suddenly became restive, and the speculation of the travelers changed to horror when they discerned a black cloud moving rapidly toward them across the snowfield.

Its nearer approach showed it to be composed of hundreds of wolves, yelping furiously, and evidently frantic with hunger, and within a few seconds the hindmost sledges were surrounded.

Panic seized the party, and those in the van whipped up the horses and made desperate attempts to escape, regardless of their companions, but the terrified horses seemed almost incapable of movement.

wolf43210A scene frightful almost beyond description was now enacted. Men, women and children, shrieking with fear, defended themselves with whatever weapons they could, but to no avail, and one after another fell amidst the snarling beasts.

The wolves, roused still further by the taste of blood, rushed toward the leading sledges, and though the first dozen conveyances managed to stave them off for a time, it was only at a terrible cost, since it is asserted that the women occupants were thrown out to be devoured by the animals.

The pursuit, however, never slackened, and the carnage went on until only the foremost sledge–that containing the bride and the bridegroom–remained beyond the wolves’ reach.

A nightmare race was kept up for a few hundred yards, and it seemed as though the danger was being evaded, when suddenly a fresh pack of wolves appeared.

The two men accompanying the bridal couple demanded that the bride should be sacrificed, but the bridegroom indignantly rejected the cowardly proposition, whereupon the men seized and overpowered the pair and threw them out to a horrible fate.

Then they succeeded in rousing their horses to a last effort, and, though attacked in turn, beat off the wolves and eventually reached Tashkend, the only two survivors of the happy party which had set out from Obstipoff.

Both men were in a semi-demented state from their experience.•