Cincinnati, OH Tornado, May 1860


On Monday afternoon, May 21, 1860, Cincinnati had her most serious experience with a tornado. The air grew suddenly dark and the heavy clouds to the southwest were repeatedly torn with brilliant flashes of lightning and as the storm advanced the city was almost engulfed by the rain. In a few minutes immense damage was done. Steeples were prostrated, dwellings overthrown, roofs whirled on high, shade trees uprooted, signs torn from their fastenings, chimneys beaten down, windows burst in and carriages driving along the streets were overturned and persons hurled from their feet. The roof of the new office building of the Commercial at the northeast corner of Fourth and Race streets, into which the staff of the paper had just moved, was torn off and large sections of it carried into different parts of the town. The most serious accident was at the 14th District School where the roof was torn from the building and swept to the opposite side of the street to the corner of Dayton and Baymiller. This exposed the infant department to the full fury of the storm and several children were badly injured, one having both legs broken. The roof of the Tabernacle Church at the corner of John and Clark was also torn off and the same fate befell a dwelling house at Liberty and John, a soap factory on Popular near John, a factory at Western and Poplar street, a carriage factory on Western row near Bank, Lane & Bodley's machine shop and many other buildings. The cupola was blown off the Brighton House and a frame beer saloon at the head of Dunlap street disappeared from the face of the earth. The heavy brick wall at the west side of Reuben R. Springer's residence at Seventh and Plum was blown to the ground. A three-story brick building in process of erection on Fifth near Wood was blown to the ground and two workmen mashed into an unrecognizable mass. Another man was killed in a brick-yard at Eighth and Freeman. The roofs of the Mechanic's Institute and also the United States Marine Hospital were blown off and the dome of the Little Miami depot floated away as if of feather weight. The minor casualties filled several columns of the papers.

Centennial History of Cincinnati and Representative Citizens by Charles Theodore
Greve, 1904, page 747