Several Towns, IL Tornado And Storm Damage, July 1861


The severe thunderstorm of Monday, which, to many people, promised so grateful a relief from the hot and sultry atmosphere of preceding days, was attended by a tornado that swept over Northern Illinois with fearful severity. We have already reported some of the damage done at Rockford, and elsewhere, but the storm seems to have covered a wider extent of country that at first supposed. From all along the line of the Galena and Chicago Railroad we get reports of the same tenor. Its presence was felt and feared everywhere, for the tornadoes of the past two seasons have caused a gathering of dark clouds to be watched with an uneasiness and dread quite new in this latitude. The gale swept from southwest to northwest, and spent its greatest force for a half hour about noon. Torrents of rain fell and the lightning constituted no small portion of the display. At Dunleith the steamboat freight house was partly unroofed, and the upper works of the wharf-boat destroyed. At Galena and Belvidere no great damage was done. The storm seems to have been most destructive to buildings and town property at Freeport and Rockford, in which places the aggregate damage is put at not less than $150,000.
Two railroad bridges near Freeport, the one of the Illinois Central Railroad across Yellow Creek, and the other of the Galena Railroad over the Pecatinica, were completely carried off. The Episcopal Church at Freeport was blown down, and is a perfect wreck; the Methodist Church, also, is partly unroofed. The BREWSTER House is partly unroofed, and BURBLOCK & HAMIEL'S Building, a block above. The Railroad round-house is in ruins, and the freight-house injured. The Galena freight house is partially unroofed. A large number of barns and private houses are unroofed or blown down entirely. A good deal of damage was done in Rydott and Silver Creek townships.
The damage to farm property is very great. All along the line the effects of the storm can be seen in trees twisted off, corn and wheat prostrated, and even potatoes are flat down, as though passed over by a heavy roller. The damage is thus widely and generally felt, and can hardly be estimated in figures. No lives are lost, as far as known.
Chicago Tribune, July 10.

The New York Times New York 1861-07-13