Cyclone, Lawrnece, MA 1890

CYCLN2_LThe Library has several collections of cyclone photographs and one glass plate negative.  A map of the route the storm took is in the Library’s map collection.

The Lawrence tornado, called the “Great Cyclone”, struck South Lawrence at 9:10 to 9:15 AM on Saturday, July 26, 1890.  It took about 2 minutes to pass through any point.  Damages were estimated at about $60,000.  Eight people were killed and 65 were injured. 

That July morning was oppressively hot.  Shortly after 9 o’clock a furious rainstorm hit.  When the rain ceased, the tornado approached touching down the Cricket Club grounds.  It skipped some areas taking off only shingles from houses.  Other structures were not so lucky.  A portion of St. Patrick’s Church was lifted off its walls.  The superstructure of the Boston & Maine Railroad Bridge was mangled.  Houses were picked up and dropped in the middle of Springfield Street and trees were uprooted and leveled in South Union Park.  The tornado traveled down Portland Street until it spent itself at the juncture of the Shawsheen and Merrimack Rivers. 

Relief efforts began immediately.  Mayor, Dr. John W. Crawford, and the heads of the city departments galvanized the community to extricate the dead and wounded and begin the cleanup.  Monday evening a mass meeting was held at City Hall where messages of sympathy from other cities were read and offers of aid were presented.  Various committees were formed to oversee the needs of the city.  Contributions to the relief fund topped at $37, 560.65.  Lawrence donated $27,249.35; Boston, $6,855; Lowell, $2090.30; Haverhill, $1,059; Salem $218; Manchester, NH, $66; and Worcester, $25.

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