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1890 Tornado

No. 10: Destruction of Main Street between 11th and 12th Street, March 27, 1890, W. Stuber & Brothers 1890 Tornado Views Photograph Collection, Filson Historical Society

On March 27, 1890, a massive tornado tore across downtown Louisville, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. The storm hit at 8:30 p.m. and lasted only about five minutes, but it nonetheless levelled homes and businesses, destroying warehouses, churches, and the railroad station. One hundred people were killed and at least 55 were injured. 

On April 14, 1890, recognizing the historic nature of this catastrophic event, Filson Club president, Reuben T. Durrett issued a call for Club member’s responses to this event to document the human response and experience. These written experiences were compiled into “an authentic and permanent narrative for publication as one of the Filson Club monographs.” 

This action by Durrett set a precedent for the Filson to collect and preserve personal narrative responses to historic events throughout our history as an organization. Continue exploring the timeline to learn about the future of documenting the past!