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Indiana Historical Bureau

IHB > Historical Markers > Find a Marker > Tri-State Tornado Tri-State Tornado

Tri-State TornadoTri-State Tornado

Location: SE corner of Main & First Streets, Griffin. (Posey County, Indiana)

Installed: 2004 Indiana Historical Bureau and Griffin High School Alumni Association and Friends

ID# : 65.2004.1

Text

Side one:

At 4:00 p.m. on March 18, 1925, a tornado arrived in Indiana after devastating parts of Missouri and Illinois. The town of Griffin was destroyed; the Owensville area and Princeton suffered heavy losses. Hundreds were injured; 76 were killed. Within hours, help came from nearby towns, the American Red Cross, and the Indiana National Guard.

Side two:

Heavy rains caused the Wabash River to flood, and by March 23, 1925 the only way to reach Griffin was by boat or railroad. Within weeks, Griffin was slowly being rebuilt. After a year, much of the town was rebuilt, including a schoolhouse, one church, and a grain elevator. This tornado is still rated the deadliest in U.S. weather history.

Keywords

Nature and Natural Disasters , Historic District, Neighborhoods, and Towns

Annotated Text

Side one :

At 4:00 p.m. on March 18, 1925, a tornado arrived in Indiana after devastating parts of Missouri and Illinois.(1) The town of Griffin was destroyed; the Owensville area and Princeton suffered heavy losses.(2) Hundreds were injured; 76 were killed.(3) Within hours, help came from nearby towns, the American Red Cross, and the Indiana National Guard.(4)

Side two:

Heavy rains caused the Wabash River to flood, and by March 23, 1925 the only way to reach Griffin was by boat or railroad.(5) Within weeks, Griffin was slowly being rebuilt.(6) After a year, much of the town was rebuilt, including a schoolhouse, one church, and a grain elevator.(7) This tornado is still rated the deadliest in U.S. weather history.(8)

Notes:

(1)The Midwestern Tornado: A Report of the Relief Work in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana in 1925-26 (Washington, D.C., June 1927), 3; "Startling Statistics, " 1925 Tri-State Tornado 75th Anniversary Web site as of May 9, 2003.

(2)The Midwestern Tornado, 26; "Report of the Adjutant General's Department: Indiana National Guard, " Indiana Year Book, 1925, p. 49. John W. Wilson and Stanley A. Changnon, Jr., Illinois Tornadoes, Circular 103, Illinois Department of Registration and Education (Urbana, Ill., 1971), 35, provides the following figures for Indiana losses: Griffin: 25 dead, 202 injured, 60 percent of population dead and injured, $375, 000 property losses; Owensville area: 6 dead, 47 injured, ? percent of population dead and injured, $600, 000 property losses; Princeton: 45 dead, 152 injured, 2 percent of population dead and injured, $1, 800, 000 property losses.

(3)Illinois Tornadoes, 35.

(4)The Midwestern Tornado, 6-10; Indiana National Guard Report, 49; New Harmony Register, March 27, 1925.

(5)New Harmony Register, March 27, 1925, pp. 1, 4. After March 18, 1925, local and state newspapers carried articles that give the reader a more intimate look at the disaster. The town of Griffin has recently compiled video interviews of many residents who survived the tornado.

(6)New Harmony Register, April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 29, June 26, 1925, March 19, 1926. (7)New Harmony Register, March 19, 1926.

(8)It has been classified as an F5 tornado according to current measures. "Startling Statistics."

The Fujita Scale is used to rate the intensity of a tornado by examining the damage caused by the tornado after it has passed over a man-made structure. The scale was created in 1971 by T. Theodore Fujita, Professor of Meteorology, University of Chicago and Allen Pearson, then the Director of National Severe Storm Forecast Center. The Tornado Project Web site .

"Startling Statistics, " provides the following information about the tornado:

• Began at 1:01 p.m. with touch down near Ellington, Missouri
• Dissipated near Petersburg, Indiana at 4:30 p.m.
• There were 3.5 hours of continuous devastation.
• Path length was 219 miles.
• Average path width has been calculated from .75 mile up to one mile, a record width.
• Rotating winds of up to 300 mph have been calculated.
• Average speed over land has been calculated to have been 62 mph.
• 695 people died.
• 2, 027 people were injured.
• 15, 000 homes were destroyed.