Archive for Thursday, May 20, 1999


May 20, 1999


An ominous quiet preceded the deadly tornado that swooped down and left a path of destruction in Old West Lawrence, downtown and North Lawrence, turning homes into kindling wood.

"Houses were turned over, out buildings carried completely away, trees torn up by their roots and thrown against houses and into the street and travel is almost impossible in the cyclone district.

"The damage is complete and there is little left in the path taken by the storm but a mass of wreckage," reported the April 14, 1911, edition of the Lawrence Journal-World.

The tornado killed two people and caused an estimated $200,000 in damage, a fortune at the time. But it wasn't the first time tornadoes had paid tragic visits to Kansas, and certainly not the last, as the Wichita and Haysville areas continue to pick up after recent tornadoes.

The 1911 Lawrence tornado is one of many featured in an upcoming exhibit at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. "Kansas Tornado," a traveling exhibit sponsored by the Kansas State Historical Society and the Kansas Humanities Council, will be on display Monday through June 18.

Destruction caused in Oskaloosa, Topeka, Winfield, Andover, Wellington and other areas of Kansas will be featured in the exhibit, said Sandra Wiechert, community relations coordinator at the library.

Wiechert said the photos show destruction caused by tornadoes from the 1880s to earlier this decade. She scheduled the exhibit before the recent series of tornadoes that killed dozens of people in Kansas and Oklahoma.

"You realize it's a statewide phenomenon, and the images are striking," Wiechert said. "It's meant to be educational and informational as well as historical."

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is

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