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Mother nature has some queer ways of rewarding the efforts of the toil of man and in the spring of 1896 East St. Louis suffered one of its worst catastrophes in the form of a cyclone. For several days prior to May 27, 1896, there had been cyclones in various sections of the country and during the morning and afternoon the people of East St. Louis observed with growing apprehension the queer cloud formations and restlessness of the skies.

And then at five o'clock that evening the storm struck. Martin Green, a St. Louis newspaperman, wrote a classic description from the observatory of the Weather Bureau at the Federal Building. He told of the early electrical display which preceded the wind when luminous balls of fire, colored red and blue could be seen and roars of thunder heard. The greenish northwestern sky cast an odor in the air as of burning leather. He spoke of the sausage-shaped cloud which swept through the sky. Vehicles were overturned and the sky became a mass of flying bricks, timber and other debris. Live stock in the stock yards suffered the full brunt of the elements and their dead littered the area. A city of less determination might have ceased to exist such was the extent of the destruction.

Click here to read eyewitness accounts of The Great Cyclone of 1896




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