Gathering Force

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GATHERING FORCE IN ITS COURSE

 

The fearful combination of aerial forces which wrecked thousands of buildings and broke up as many homes, grew in strength as it dashed through the city in its death dealing course. The storm it had gathered in its ranks out in the high ground west of the city was not fully settled in position and confusion reigned in place of the discipline that predominated in a few minutes. In the center there was a thick mass of fighting strength, but the outside ranks were weak and wavering, prone to wander off with each fancy of the wind. Coming down toward the Poorhouse the rotary motion, the secret of the tornado's power, began to make itself apparent to a visible extent. The army of clouds, from the shape of a drawn out accordion, partook more of the shape of a screw, with the small end, the effective end, dangling towards the earth. Once the cloud was formed the onslaught was inevitable. The wind took up the course that drew the storm toward the city and the city was doomed. No human power could stay the rush.

In a tempest of discordant sound the tornado swooped down on the Poorhouse, worked its will and continued on its way. The Female Hospital, just across the street, was right in its path, but the vagaries of a tornado are hard to understand. It took a slight trend to the east and south, clipped off the roof of the west wing of the Female Hospital, and then with the big Insane Asylum looming up before it, full of possibilities for horrible execution, it shifted once more to the south and took up a path that brought it over the asylum farms.

Upon reaching King's Highway the tornado was in a fair way to last on a voyage through the city. The scattering clouds on the edges were rapidly closing in on the central mass, and the screw shape was becoming more pronounced. From the direction it was traveling it seemed, when it passed the Insane Asylum, to be bound for Carondelet, but the strategy and ingenuity that actuated its movements came into play and steered it to a path more productive of loss of property and life.

Koerner's Garden-the mecca of the cyclist, and of the convival generally-stands, or we should rather say, stood on the corner of King's highway and Arsenal street. When the tornado was two blocks away from it to the south one would have sworn it was on its way directly east. But it wheeled suddenly in its course and made a dash for Koerner's. The momentum it bad attained toward the east was too strong to allow it to strike the garden direct, but it made a good, honest effort at demolition, and then went on its way to Tower Grove Park, directly to the northeast. It tore across Tower Grove Park in a diagonal direction, gathering strength as it traveled, leveling trees and uprooting plants and shrubs, and then struck out over the bill for the lovely dwellings on Compton Heights. Away to the east, down in the valley, the big buildings of the Liggett & Myers tobacco plant reared their heads to the sky, and the great steel girders seemed to attract the tornado as a magnet attracts steel. It paused a moment in the rush to Compton Heights took on a stronger rotary motion and sped away for the tobacco buildings.

 

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