Keokuk County, IA Tornado, May 1873


In early days Iowa had an unenviable notoriety for wind storms: and undeservedly so; for while a number of frightful storms have swept across the State, they have not been greater in number nor more destructive in their results than in other States.

One of the most destructive tornadoes which ever passed through this latitude was the one occurring on the 23d of May, 1873.
Certain portions of Keokuk county were particularly unfortunate.
The following account of that tornado, with a minute description of its effects in this county, was written for the “Sigourney News,” by John A. Donnell, Esq., which we copy entire:

“The most terrific whirlwind, simoon, tornado, cyclone—or whatever name you may choose to call it—ever known, passed over a portion of this county on Thursday last, leaving death, destruction, and utter ruin in its track.

“At about 6 o’clock in the morning the rain came down in torrents, and in less than thirty minutes the streams were ‘on a tear,’ and gave us new high-water marks—the highest for may years. After it was over the people gazed up into the heavens and wished for dry weather, with about as much solicitude, I imagine, as Noah did, when the waters of the flood subsided, and the dove was sent forth from the window of the ark to look for the top of the mountain. The morning was warm and sultry; noon came, and up to that time, neither wind, hail nor rain.


Read another article about the tornado (below).