Updated: May 26th, 2014 6:30 am
On May 26th, 1917 - 101 people were killed and 638 were injured when a tornado outbreak occurred in central Illinois. Among the many locations affected were the Charleston & Mattoon areas, where 91 people lost their lives. This destruction was the result of an impressive tornado storm that tracked 293 miles across central Illinois. Once believed to be a single tornado, later studies have suggested it was possibly eight separate tornadoes. This severe weather event started with a tornado touching down about 20 miles southeast of Quincy, IL. After which the storm continued to track east before making a northeast turn towards Charleston. The towns of Mattoon and Charleston bore the brunt of the tornado. Damage from this severe tornado in Mattoon was about 2.5 blocks wide and 2.5 miles long, with over 700 houses destroyed, while the Charleston portion was 600 yards wide and 1.5 miles long, with 220 homes damaged. Damage in the two towns amounted to about $2 million, in 1917 dollars, which would be closer to 36 million in today’s economy.
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