Little Rock Tornado - October 2, 1894

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The Little Rock Tornado of October 2, 1894 struck around 7:30 PM, killing four people, injuring dozens, and damaging the Arkansas State Lunatic Asylum, State Penitentiary, and several blocks of businesses in the downtown district about three miles east of the government buildings.

Eyewitness Charles Joseph was standing at the corner of Third and Main when the tornado struck: "About 7:30 o'clock I heard an awful noise and roaring. It was unlike any ordinary sound. In a moment there was a burst of wind, and I ran across the street into a stairway. The storm burst in all its fury. The rear of the building in which I stood was torn away. Across the street I saw a telegraph pole torn to pieces. A horse and buggy stood near the sidewalk. They were blown across the pavement and slammed against the side of a wall."

Killed in the storm were asylum physician J. T. Ingate, John Edwards and an infant son, Jackson Boyd and his son, an unidentified black couple, and penitentiary convict J. F. Griffith.

The cyclone destroyed many buildings and ripped roofs off thirty others along East Markham, Main, Center, and Cumberland, Second, and Third streets. Damaged in the storm were Arkansas Carpet and Furniture Company, Arkansas Stables, the Bank of Little Rock, M. F. Baucum Wholesale Grocery, Gus Blass & Company, Bell Telephone Company, Capital Hotel, Dickinson Hardware, Dudley E. Jones Company, German National Bank, Hollock & Son, Little Rock Tent & Awning Company, the Oakleaf Hotel, Charles F. Penzel Grocer Company, J. P. Quinn Dry Goods Company, the Richelieu and Robinson hotels, Sam Rudolph & Company, Louis Volmer & Company, Western Union Telegraph Co., and Wilson & Webb Stationery Company. The Baum Block was completely leveled by the storm and the Allis Block and Martin Block damaged. Four wards of the asylum were destroyed. Damaged was estimated at the time in excess of $1 million.

The tornado is also notable as the first for which a reliable measurement of barometric pressure change was taken. The funnel of the cyclone may have passed directly over the local U.S. Weather Bureau office occupied by George S. Harkness at 8:28 PM. Harkness recorded a 0.38 inch pressure drop on his Richards barograph machine.


  • "Cyclone at Little Rock; The State Penitentiary and Insane Asylum Wrecked," New York Times, October 3, 1894.
  • "Cyclone in Arkansas; It Destroys Much Property and Many Lives are Lost," Aspen Weekly Times (Col.), October 6, 1894.
  • Michele G. Melaragno, Severe Storm Engineering for Structural Design (Taylor & Francis, 1995), 126.
  • "Three Dead, Seven Missing; Besides Thirty-Five Injured at Little Rock, Ark.," New York Times, October 3, 1894.
  • "Wrecked by a Tornado; The Business Part of Little Rock Devastated," Cranbury Press (N.J.), October 12, 1894.

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