Preservation Journal

From St. Charles County Library

Hurricane February 26th, 1876.
(The storm actually occurred February 27, 1876)

On February 27 at 1 :30 in the afternoon, a disastrous tornado struck St. Charles. A special edition of the St. Charles Cosmos Monitor newspaper described the storm and its aftermath:

"At half past one o'clock, a heavy storm cloud was observed directly south of the city, moving due north." "Soon came signs of the fury which was to follow. The ragged wind blew scud in all directions. And almost instantly the lurid brown of a cyclone appeared in the southwest about three miles from the upper end of St. Charles."

"Moving eastward at first, the terrible cloud column worked its way toward the city. A deep-toned, humming roar, very similar in sound and disagreeable effect to the noise and earth-shaking properties of a steam blower of a locomotive engine, but magnified a hundred fold, was the dreadful signal of its coming." "Deliberately, but erratically, it moved through our devoted city, death in its roar and destruction in its touch."

"After having followed the two main streets of the city to within three hundred feet of the Wabash Bridge, the railroad bridge over the Missouri, the cyclone turned suddenly eastward, moved parallel to the bridge and then crossed it in the middle of its fourth span." "For a second the cloud obscured the span, a flying roof soaring fifty feet above it, but in another instant the grand old bridge loomed out clear and sharp -its outline unbroken against the black background of the defeated storm king who swept muttering away ."

"At fifteen minutes past two the storm was over and half an hour later the sun was shining and the uncomfortable warmth of the morning had given place to a cold and chilly atmosphere."

The photos on this postcard show the same two buildings before and after the tornado. The first St. Charles County Courthouse, pictured on the left of each photograph, was built between 1846 and 1849. It was extensively damaged in the 1876 storm, but was repaired and continued in use until 1903. The Saint Charles Savings Bank, located in the Concert Hall Building, is pictured on the right in each photograph. The Concert Hall Building was damaged beyond repair, however the St. Charles Savings Bank was reopened in a temporary location within a week of the disaster. The St. Charles Savings Bank later became First State Bank.