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COMANCHE COUNTY, KANSAS: HISTORY & GENEALOGY
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Photos by J.R. Cline and Gloria Cline, courtesy of Rhonda Nickel

Photos of Wilmore, Kansas, After the Tornado on May 20th, 1949.

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: "Wilmore Tornado 1949".

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"Shortly after 7:30 p.m. Friday evening, May 20, 1949, a tornado struck Wilmore, destroying property over the entire town and almost completely wrecking the business district of the town. The twister was preceded by a heavy rain and some hail fell after it passed on. In all, it lasted less than five minutes. The tornado hit with such suddenness that many people did not have time to seek shelter in cellars and basements, and many watched the progress of the storm from their homes. Some families had the presence of mind to lie flat on the floor and so escaped injury." -- The Wilmore News, May 27, 1949: "Twister Wrecks Wilmore Business District"


 

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: "Hardware".

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"The tornado came from the south-west, following the creek and cutting a clean sweep of trees there. As it hit the business section, it leveled many places of business. Among those it hardest was the Wilmore Hardware and Implement Company. Its entire building was completely wrecked and the building material scattered over a wide area." -- The Wilmore News, May 27, 1949: "Twister Wrecks Wilmore Business District"


 

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: "Filling Station".

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Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: "Garage".

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Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: "Lbr. (Lumber) Yard".

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Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: "Park".

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Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: "Ilene Carthrae (looking at damage)".

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Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: "Henry Waller, Billy Frost".

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Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: "Grocery Store".

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"Last Sunday following the storm it was estimated that 5,000 people were in Wilmore looking at the damage done by the storm. Sight-seers have continued all through the week and a large number was here again on Sunday the 29th." -- The Wilmore News, June 3, 1949: "Visitors Flock To Wilmore"


 

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: "Garage".

View Larger Image


 

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: Baker Garage and the Alpha Hotel.

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"Baker's Garage and Service Station was extensively damaged and the hotel owned by Dale Goeller lost a part of the roof and the rest was left sagging and badly torn up." -- The Wilmore News, May 27, 1949: "Twister Wrecks Wilmore Business District"


 

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: "Art. Barber, Gene Dorsey".

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Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.  

At left: "Grocery Store".

View Larger Image


 

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel. At left: "School Bus Garage".

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"May 20th, 1949 was just an average beautiful spring day in Wilmore. It was the last day of school and, according to custom, the school had a basket dinner to celebrate the fact. ... This year it was held in the combination bus garage, lunchroom and kitchen that had been built a few years earlier. I'm sure there were over 100 people in the bus garage and lunchroom around noon, but by the grace of God, by 4 p.m. everyone had left the area. At approximately 4 p.m., a tornado swept into town. This tornado did not stay on the ground very long at a time. It skipped several homes before it hit the school garage and lunch room. The school buses (5 or 6) had been out of the garage for the dinner that day but were all back in place by then. The tornado simply destroyed the building completely. It was a brick building, and there were never many of the bricks from it found." -- Wendel Ferrin.
 

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.
"Wilmore, Ks. Tornado - May 20, 1949 - Grain Bin"   View Larger Image

"A steel bin at the Bowersock elevator was wrenched loose, a shed wrecked and smaller bins blown away." -- The Wilmore News, May 27, 1949: "Twister Wrecks Wilmore Business District"

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.
"School House, Bus Garage, Hot Lunch Room"   View Larger Image

"...of course the tornado was a big deal. That tornado happened right at the end of the last day of school picnic. As a matter of fact we would all have stayed longer, but the men came into the lunchroom (where the picnic was being held) and said the weather looked threatening so we all left early. As my parents and I rounded the curve going out of Wilmore to the west, the tornado hit and we saw the dirt fly. Quite a sight and I'll never forget it." "...the tornado hit the lunchroom where we all had been and destroyed it and the bus garage that was attached." -- Carmen (Wilson) Ivy.

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.
"Wilmore Hardware"   View Larger Image

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.
"Phillip's 66, Richardson's"   View Larger Image

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.
"Wilmore's trees after tornado hit, May 20, 1949"   View Larger Image

Aftermath of the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Kansas. Photograph by J.R. & Gloria Cline, from the collection of Rhonda Nickel.
"Cleaning up Wilmore after Tornado"   View Larger Image

"Hundreds of trees all over town were uprooted and torn up, and the task of moving them from the streets and yards has been an enormous one. Before this can be finished, it will be necessary to cut down many that cannot be saved. However, the streets were cleared by Monday evening. Early Saturday morning, volunteer workers came in bringing tractors and trucks to help clear the trees out of the streets. By noon, 12 tractors and 6 trucks were busy. Several worked on through Sunday." -- The Wilmore News, May 27, 1949: "Twister Wrecks Wilmore Business District"


RELATED HISTORIES:

The Wilmore News, May 27, 1949: "Twister Wrecks Wilmore Business District"

The Wilmore News, June 3, 1949: "Town Cleaning Up After Tornado Damage"

The Wilmore News, September 9, 1949:"MULE CREEK AGAIN FLOODS IN NORTH PART OF WILMORE"

Tornados in the Wilmore, Kansas area
A story about the tornado which hit Wilmore on May 20th, 1949, written by Wendel Ferrin and illustrated with photos by John Edward Schrock.


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