By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
May 21, 2014
On July 10, 1915, the skies over the tiny hamlet of Atlanta, Mo., turned black, the air grew still and oppressively humid following what many thought to be a routine summer thunderstorm. Then, to the south and west of Atlanta, a funnel cloud fell from the sky and wrought an almost 20-mile path of destruction through the farmland of Northeast Missouri.
This real photo postcard shows the cyclone as it dropped from the sky near Barnesville and churns up earth and debris on that fateful Saturday. According to newspaper accounts in the Atlanta Express and the Macon Daily Chronicle, the storm was responsible for the destruction of dozens of barns and farmhouses, one prize mare and the death of over 200 chickens on the farm of William Roan.
The account in the Atlanta newspaper gives a detailed, farm-by-farm description of the storm’s path and the damage wrought to each farm. Include in the account is a tale of two young children who were playing in a smoke house, plucked up by the cyclone and carried over 100 yards before being dropped in a ravine. Astonishingly, neither were seriously injured.
This postcard was mailed in Kirksville, Mo., to Miss Verna and Virgil Boyer of Grainger, Mo., on July 30, 1915. The personal message on the back of the card reads: “Dear kids, Herewith photo of Cyclone which passed near Atlanta, MO last week. When you see a cloud like this, hike it to the caves. Best regards to all, Lee.”
For a detailed accounting of this storm, we’ve attached the pdf versions of the stories written in the Atlanta Express and the Macon Daily Chronicle below. They were furnished by the State Historical Society of Missouri. Atlanta is a village just off U.S. Hwy. 63, roughly 12 miles north of Macon, Mo.