Friday, March 27, 2015

1965 Palm Sunday Tornadoes

The front page of the Journal the next day
Palm Sunday is this weekend, and for many people, the Sunday before Easter always brings back bad memories of 1965. For it was on Palm Sunday, April 11, 1965 – 50 years ago next month – that an outbreak of 47 deadly tornadoes struck the Midwest, including Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. 271 people were killed (60 in Ohio) and 1500 were injured.

The front page of the April 12, 1965 Journal is shown above.

In Lorain County, eighteen people died. Pittsfield was practically wiped off the map, and nine people loss their lives there. It's still impossible to drive through Pittsfield on Route 58 and not think of the devastation that the small community suffered.

Here's the continuation from page 1 of the April 12, 1965 Journal. It includes a well-written article by Lou Kepler about the damage at Pittsfield.

Here's a small article from the Plain Dealer from April 19, 1965 about how Pittsfield was beginning to rebuild a week after the disaster. It's interesting that the Civil War statue was the first priority.

A year after the deadly tornado, the Plain Dealer published an article by James L. Grisso (below) that explained some of the improved weather warning devices that were now in use. The article also included a few great photos, including one of Pittsfield's damaged Civil War monument and an update on the community since the disaster.

April 3, 1966 article from the Plain Dealer
The 1965 Palm Sunday tornadoes only reinforced my childhood fear of tornadoes (that had already been nurtured with tales of the one that struck Lorain in 1924).


Anonymous said...

We lived on the southern border of Oberlin and that night my mother heard a strange sound. Right when the tornado hit Pittsfield, our front and back doors rattled badly at the same time.

A week later we piled into the car with our Easter baskets to drive around and look at things. For some reason, I have always remembered that statue as being without it's head. Guess I was wrong. But I was left being afraid of tornadoes also.

-Alan D Hopewell said...

As was I; I recall going past the ruins the day after, at the age of nine, and being
reminded of Tokyo in the original GODZILLA film.

Jeff Sigsworth said...


Another article I saw cited August 12, 1896, as the dedication -- and said that the 2-mill tax levy for it was passed in the spring of 1895; sounds like the most reasonable timeframe, but still need actual contemporary corroboration... can you make it this Saturday for the 2-5 p.m. program & ceremony at Pittsfield Town Hall?

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for reminding me about that. I'm going to try and make it.