Lawrence, MA Tornado, Jul 1890

A Number of Lives Lost, Many Persons Killed and Injured and Hundreds of Houses Razed to the Ground -- The Victims.

LAWRENCE, Mass., July 27. -- A cyclone, equaling in destructive power those so frequently reported from Western communities visited the suburbs of South Lawrence at about fifteen minutes past two o'clock yesterday forenoon, and in fifteen minutes had killed six people; seriously injured fifteen; slightly injured twenty; cut a swath through a thickly populated section two hundred feet wide and a mile long; rendered five hundred people homeless; destroyed or greatly damaged from seventy-five to one hundred buildings, and inflicted a loss of at least $100,000, all of which was uninsured against damage by wind or storm.

South Lawrence is a busy railroad junction, and is occupied mainly by well-to-do mechanics. The northern boundary of the belt of the destruction was but three streets south of the lofty mills with their busy throngs of thousands of workers; showing how narrow was the escape from a more appalling loss of life and property.

It was a veritable dog day. The air was hot and humid. Dark clouds scurried westerly through the heavens with an intermittent rain. Suddenly the wind veered to the west, an inky black coal-like cloud seemed to drop from the cumulous mass hanging through the west and moving rapidly with awful aspect toward the city. It was accompanied by torrents of rain. In an instant there came a crash. Buildings were crushed like egg-shells. Some were lifted from their foundations and dropped to pieces. Others were tipped over. The air was filled with the flying debris.

Most of those who met death in the wreck were killed instantly. Many lay unconscious.

The survivors were too much horrified to know where or when the cyclone ended its course, but the train of ruin in its path showed that it touched the earth at or near the cricket grounds, it crossed Emmet street, Broadway, the railroad and Parker street, wrecking everything in its course.

In Union square over 500 houses were leveled. The storm passed over Shaw's river to the town of Andover, where it exhausted itself in the trees and fences. The police station was at once notified and ambulances and a squad of officers started for the scene. An alarm of fire was rung in, and the firemen responded quickly and rendered valuable assistance in moving the injured from the ruins. The ambulances carried several crushed human bodies to the hospital. Others were taken to private houses.