The tornados which roared through the Ohio Valley (including West Liberty, Kentucky and Henryville, Indiana) between March 2nd and 3rd of this year were particularly devastating. While residents of the Ohio Valley region are certainly no strangers to unseasonable if not downright crazy weather, photos and videos portraying the aftermath of these storms are simply heartbreaking and seem to provoke questions such as “since when do we have tornadoes in March?” One answer to this question could be: since 1890.
In 1890, the” Scientific American” journal, printed out of New York, described itself as a “weekly journal of practical information, art, science, mechanics, chemistry, and manufactures.” Here in the Filson Library, we have an article from the April 12, 1890 issue, entitled “The Cyclone of March 23, 27, and 28” which covers the storms that extended from Nebraska to Tennessee. The bulk of the damage, however; occurred in Louisville. Photos taken at St. John’s Episcopal Church, the Falls City Hall, the stand-pipe at the Water Works, and the Union Depot reveal extensive damage caused by this deadly 1890 tornado. The death toll in Louisville reached just over 100 with even more reported injuries.
This article was well written and provides a fairly comprehensive overview of the event, featuring a map of the path of the tornado in Louisville along with many photos and illustrations of the destruction. Furthermore, as one would imagine it elaborates on the scientific view of tornados, including illustrations of various phases in which funnel clouds present themselves.
The Filson library houses this article as a Rare, Large Pamphlet and it may be viewed in the Special Collections department reading room on the third floor of the building. On behalf of everyone here at the Filson Historical Society, the victims of the recent storms in the Ohio Valley have been and will continue to be in our thoughts.