Elgin, IL Tornado, Mar 1920 - Death Toll at 8

Elgin Death Toll Placed at Eight.

Hundreds or More are Hurt When Tornado Cuts Swath in City.

City Is In Darkness.

Volunteers Patrol City To Prevent Looting-Other Towns Cut Off.

Loss Put at Four Million.

Estimates Made By Officials; Military Rule Prevails; Hail Follows Wind.

Elgin, Ill., March 28.-With eight known dead, 100 or more injured, and property loss that may exceed $4,000,000. Elgin tonight is paralyzed as a result of a cyclone that swept over this town at noon today.

Tonight this city of 27,000 persons is in darkness and almost cut off from the outside world. At 7 p.m. the business district, which bore the brunt of the storm, was cleared by order of Mayor EDWIN E. PRICE, and soldiers and volunteers are patrolling the streets to prevent looting.

The storm struck Elgin from the southwest during a torrential downpour of rain and swept northeast across the heart of the city, leaving a trail of ruined buildings in its path.

The trail of destruction is about 200 yards wide. The windstorm was followed by a terril(sic) hailstorm, lasting 20 minutes.

All communications with surrounding towns had been cut off, but reports brought in indicate the loss of life in the rural districts may be heavy. Towns which felt the full effect of the storm include Wauconda, McHenry, Woodstock, Algonquin and Marengo. Dundee is said to have been passed over by the storm, but damage in the surrounding farming country was heavy.

Hospitals Filled.

Sherman and St. Joseph’s hospitals here are filled with injured tonight, while scores who were bruised and cut received treatment at the hospital and Doctors’ offices then went to the homes of friends.

Eight square blocks of Elgin’s business district and five blocks of the residence district were in the path of the cyclone, which left behind a trail of wrecked and damaged buildings.

Brick buildings were gutted, roofs were blown off, and in the residence section houses were lifted bodily from their foundations and flung against their neighbors. Hundreds of trees, torn out by their roots, blocked the streets and railroad tracks. All telephone and electric light poles for blocks were torn down.

A single telegraph wire and a single telephone wire connect Elgin with the outside world tonight.

Two reports of looting were received by Police Chief D. FRANK GAHAN. The window display of a jewelry store was blown into the street and carried away by looters.

Girls were reported to have looted the window of a millinery store carrying away the display of spring hats.

Under Military Law.

To prevent looting tonight Mayor PRICE issued his proclamation declaring the business district under military law. All pedestrians are barred unless provided with passes.

Stories of the freak stunts of the windstorm are legion. The families of LOUIS and CHARLES HENNING were seated at dinner when the cyclone lifted the house from over their heads without injuring any member of the party. Ten houses in a space of three blocks in that neighborhood were totally destroyed.

Hardly a business block downtown escaped damage.

The first train into Elgin, leaving Chicago at 2:05, reached here shortly after 4 o’clock and was halted in the outskirts while working men sawed and chopped away scores of trees which had been blown across the tracks.

Street car services in Elgin is at a standstill tonight. Every window was blown from a car caught in the business district. Six box cars standing at the Chicago and Northwestern station were hurled down the embankment to the edge of the Fox River.

William McClure, city assessor, estimated tonight after a survey of the wrecked district, that it will cost $4,000,000 to restore the buildings destroyed and damaged. Few of the sufferers carried cyclone insurance.

Tulsa Daily World, Tulsa, OK 29 Mar 1920


Hits Elgin At Noon

The tornado struck Elgin at noon, coming from the southwest, and swept northeast. In the Chicago territory it first passed through the village of Bellwood, and sweeping from there through Maywood and Melrose Park, left a path of destruction 200 yards wide and a mile and a half long.

In 10 minutes 175 houses in the quarter were leveled and four hundred were damaged.

The wind tore into the business quarter of Melrose Park; ripping roofs from buildings shattering windows and piling the streets with debris.

The Church of the Sacred Heart was severely damaged, the church bell, weighing nearly a ton, being deposited 100 feet away.

The roof of the parish house adjoining was carried away and three nuns were injured by flying debris.

Fire for a time threatened to add to the havoc, but the flames were confined to the wreckage.

A lath blown from the Sacred Heart Academy penetrated a tree seven inches in diameter 300 feet away.

The known dead:
Elgin, 8

Tulsa Daily World, Tulsa, OK 29 Mar 1920