Archive for Friday, April 15, 2011

100 years ago: Killer tornado sweeps through Lawrence

April 15, 2011


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for April 15, 1911:

“DEVASTATION TODAY OVER TORNADO-SWEPT LAWRENCE -- Two lives, a score of injured, a demolished factory district, and thousands of dollars property loss is the terrible toll exacted from Lawrence by the tornado which swept over the city at the supper hour [on April 12, 1911]. The storm broke over the city with a torrent of rain at 6:55, and at 8:20 it suddenly ceased, to be succeeded by an ominous quiet. Touching at the Kasold farm southwest of town, it lifted momentarily only to dip again at Doubleday’s. It swerved to the northeast... Dipping again it swept on to Mississippi, Indiana, and Louisiana streets.... The tornado came from the southwest and passed through the city in a northeasterly direction, devastating and scattering buildings in its path, almost totally wrecking the 600 block in Massachusetts street, wrecking many residences in West Lawrence and converting a section of North Lawrence into kindling wood.... The full fury of the storm was wreaked on the Lawrence business district. Wilder’s shirt factory and laundry is almost a total loss. The Paper Mill was in the vortex of the storm and sustained damage to every department.... The Bowersock Mills have a few corners crumbled at the top and a few wooden awnings torn loose. The large plate glass windows in the Lawrence National were shattered.”

“‘I’m not going to remain in here around that stove,’ remarked Mrs. Ethel Wheeler, a domestic on Doubleday farm, when the storm broke last night. Running out in the darkness, she went directly to her death. When her body was recovered an hour later... it had been blown nearly a quarter of a mile through a field.... Pausing a moment to close a transom and save her carpet from being ruined, cost Mrs. Joe Sullivan, 636 Illinois street, her life last night. Before she could join her son [in the cellar], the house was swept from its foundation and both inmates buried beneath a pile of wreckage. Mrs. Sullivan lived but a few minutes after being extricated.”

“Crossing the river the cyclone made a clean sweep of all in its path which was about a block wide through the most thickly settled portion of that part of town. Houses were turned over, outbuildings carried completely away, trees torn up by the roots and thrown against the houses and into the street. Travel is almost impossible in the cyclone district. Telephone service is completely demoralized.... The damage is complete and there is little left in the path taken by the storm but a mass of wreckage.”


Sarah St. John 7 years, 1 month ago

FYI, the amount of damage caused by this tornado in current dollars would have been somewhere around $6 million or $7 million.

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