NOAA/NWS 1925 Tri-State Tornado Web Site--Tornado Track
For thousands of residents in Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois, and Southwest Indiana, the days following March 18, 1925 must have been horrendous. Hundreds of lives had been taken and thousands were injured or left homeless. With so many fatalities, so many injuries, so much destruction, and so many lives torn apart, it was now time to clean up the mess that nature had left behind. But this was much easier said than done—for it would take months to rebuild what had been demolished in less than 4 hours. Let’s take a brief look at what happened years ago, on that dreadful day of the Great Tri-State Tornado.
It all started around 1:00 p.m. just northwest of Ellington, Missouri, where one farmer was killed. From there, the tornado raced to the northeast, killing two people and inflicting $500,000 in damage upon Annapolis and the mining town of Leadanna. Departing the Ozarks, the storm headed across the farmland of Bollinger County, injuring 32 children in two county schools. By the time the tornado reached the Mississippi River bordering Perry County, eleven Missourians had perished.
The devastation mounted in southern Illinois, as the entire town of Gorham was demolished around 2:30 p.m. There, 34 people lost their lives. During the next 40 minutes, 541 people were killed and 1,423 were seriously injured as the tornado tore a path of destruction nearly one mile wide through the towns of Murphysboro, De Soto, Hurst-Bush, and West Frankfort. In eastern Franklin County, 22 people died as the town of Parrish was virtually wiped off the map. The tornado proceeded unabated across rural farmland of Hamilton and White Counties, where the death toll reached 65.
After taking the lives of more than 600 Illinoisans, the storm surged across the Wabash River, demolishing the entire community of Griffin, Indiana. Next in line were the rural areas just northwest of Owensville, where about 85 farms were devastated. As the storm ripped across Princeton, about half the town was destroyed, with damage here estimated at $1.8 million. Fortunately, the twister dissipated about ten miles northeast of Princeton, sparing the community of Petersburg in Pike County. In the aftermath, the death toll mounted to 695 people—at least 71 of those were in Southwest Indiana. Property damage totaled $16.5 million—nearly 2/3 of that was in Murphysboro alone.
To view an image of the 1925 Tri-State Tornado's track, click on the thumbnail image below: