The 1913 Tornado
Many may remember the devastating 1975 tornado. It tore a path of devastation from
about 92nd and Q Streets to 70th and Maple Streets. Due however to excellent
warning, only three people died. Much more serious in loss of life was the 1913
tornado, which hit our neighborhood. Over 100 people died and 600 homes were
destroyed as the storm spanned from Yutan, Nebraska into Iowa. The western edge of
Omaha was 42nd Street and the path was from 42nd and Center northeastward until
crossing the river at Carter Lake.
March 23, 1913
Easter Sunday was early in 1913, falling on March 23. The day was pleasantly warm
when storm clouds began to gather about 5 p.m. The tornado struck with great
suddenness and fury. It crossed our neighborhood, striking Joslyn Castle, wrecking the
38th and California to Chicago area, almost annihilating the hillside from 36th to 38th
and Cass, tearing off the north end of Duchesne Academy, sweeping down through
Bemis Park, while smashing all the houses on Cuming Street from 33rd to 35th. It then
passed 28th and Parker and 24th and Lake. It was at 24th and Lake that more than 30
people were killed as brick buildings were smashed and several burned with victims
Looking toward 38th St.
Notice the pile of coal on the right.
With no warning sirens and well before the advent of radio, there was no way to alert
people of the tornado’s approach. Persons living only a few blocks from the path of the
storm were in some cases unaware for hours of the destruction that had occurred.
Following its passing, temperatures dropped quickly and it began to rain and then snow,
further increasing the distress of those affected. Debris from the tornado was found as far
as 75 miles away in Iowa. The accompanying pictures were taken by Carl Balbach who
lived at 39th and Nicholas.
Burt St., 35th to 36th
34th & Cuming, looking west
Wilwerding, Leo, Gifford Park’s Pride, September, 1996.
|Gifford Park Neighborhood Association
P.O. Box 31462, Omaha, NE 68131-0462