St. Louis, MO Tornado, May 1896 - Aftermath
Lightning struck an oil tank near the express house and set fire to it, and it is feared that the building might have also been burned.
The Grand opera house and the Standard are in ruins.
The front of the Southern hotel is a mass of ruins, the debris falling into the office. The entire kitchen end of the structure is swept away.
The Simmons hardware Co. has offered all of their axes and picks for the use of the relief committees.
The storm is reported to have struck St. Louis near the corner of Fourteenth and Olive streets and did not do much damage in North St. Louis, confining its work to South and Middle St. Louis and then jumping across to East St. Louis.
AT THE CITY JAIL
A Big, Broad Road to Liberty, but the Prisoners were Too Terrified to Accept It.
A twenty-foot section of the western wall of the city jail blew down, exposing the interior.
It was during the exercise hour and nearly 200 prisoners were in the “bull ring.” They were too frightened to run although escape would have been easy. Instead they set up a concerted yell of terror, and many voluntarily sought shelter in their cells.
Jailer Wagner was on the scene in a moment, and with the aid of a number of policemen and detectives, soon had the noisy crowd behind the locks.
A special detail of police was hastily summoned, and will be on guard all night.
The Four Courts was otherwise badly damaged, and Judge Harvey’s court was adjourned in confusion.
A big fire was raging at the poorhouse at 6 p.m.
AT THE UNION STATION.
Two Women Fatally Crushed Under Fallen Walls.
As the storm cut through the railroad yard back of the Union station it turned over any number of freight and passenger cars and carried away the northwest corner of the Union depot grain elevator.
This elevator is one of the largest in the city, and as the wreckage came down it crashed through the roofs of a half dozen deserted shanties. So far as could be learned no one was injured there.
But as the storm came on in its fury it struck the saloon at Twenty-first and Clark avenues, owned by a man known to the policeman on the beat as “Steve Brodie.”
The whole east wall of that three-story brick structure was carried away, but as it fell it caught the heavy lines of electric wires and snapped them each in twain.
Then came the crash which buried the two women. Next to the saloon is Mrs. Gunn's grocery store. She and Gertie McKenna were there alone, and as they were standing speechless under the fury of the storm the west wall of "Brodie's" saloon came down through the roof of the grocery store. There was no scream from the women; they were being crushed and smothered.