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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: New Richmond Cyclone (Historic Marker Erected 1997)

Definition:

Campus Drive, Outlot #3, New Richmond, St. Croix County 

The New Richmond Cyclone of 1899 remains the most disastrous tornado recorded in Wisconsin history. On the hot summer evening of June 12, with little warning and amazing force, a tornado swept through the thriving agricultural community of New Richmond, a city of about 2,000 people. In the tornado's path lay the entire business district, several Victorian neighborhoods and a visiting circus. The destruc­tion was swift and brutal. Within minutes structures collapsed and fires ignited, leaving 117 people dead, another 150 injured, 230 buildings destroyed and over 400 animals lifeless. The next day volunteers began arriving on relief trains fol­lowed by medical teams and the state militia. Many tourists thronged to see the destruction; a few came to loot. Despite the grief and loss, most of the surviving New Richmond residents remained in the city and rebuilt their homes, churches and businesses. Five months later the community had over one hundred new buildings.

[Source: McBride, Sarah Davis. History Just Ahead (Madison:WHS, 1999).]

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