Press Room -- Illinois State Museum, Springfield
SPRINGFIELD – Two segments of tree trunks, remnants of the devastating 1925 Tri-State tornado, are now on exhibit in the lobby of the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, along with several historic photographs. These “tornado trees” are a dramatic illustration of the power of tornadoes. Many people who have visited the Illinois State Museum over the years will remember seeing this popular exhibit.
These fragments of trees with large boards rammed through them were recovered near Murphysboro after the great Tri-State tornado of March 18, 1925. A 2 x 4 board is jammed into one of the trunks, and a 1 x 10 piece of wood has been driven through the other. The 1925 Tri-State tornado wreaked havoc along its 219 mile path. The tornado is considered to be one of the most destructive tornadoes to life and property in the United States. It swept without warning across Missouri, southern Illinois, and Indiana, killing 689 people, injuring 1,980 and causing $17 million in damage (1925 dollars). Illinois was hardest hit – 606 people died and 1,563 were injured. Murphysboro suffered the greatest destruction.
The tornado trees were donated to the Illinois State Museum in 1925 by H. Langdon Robinson (part of the Henson Robinson Company family). H. Langdon Robinson was a young lieutenant in the National Guard, which was called out in the aftermath of the devastating tornado. According to Sally Robinson of Springfield, her father H. Langdon Robinson asked to have the trees after they were cut down for the purpose of donating them to the Illinois State Museum. At that time, the Illinois State Museum was located in the Centennial Building (now the Howlett Building). The trees represent one of the oldest Museum exhibits. They were shown in the Centennial Building beginning in 1925 and were moved to the current Illinois State Museum building when it opened in 1963. For more than 75 years, visitors were fascinated by the exhibit that graphically demonstrated the powerful force of a deadly tornado. The exhibit was removed when the new Changes natural history exhibition was created. The trees are among the most frequently asked about items by Museum visitors. The display continues in the Museum lobby through August 25.
Images available at: http://bit.ly/15e5Mkn
The Illinois State Museum is an institution dedicated to inspiring people of all ages to discover and care about Illinois’ natural and cultural resources and heritage. The Museum’s extensive collections and research activities provide the foundation for exhibitions and public programs that tell the story of the land, life, people, and art of Illinois. The Illinois State Museum is located at 502 S. Spring Street (the corner of Spring and Edwards Streets) in Springfield, and is open 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5:00 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Parking is available nearby, and the building is ADA accessible.