Kane County History: Geneva Remembers Tornado of 1967

Kane County History: Geneva Remembers Tornado of 1967

Fire at 100 block of West State Street, 1953.

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article was contributed by Terry Emma, director of the Geneva History Museum. All photos are courtesy of the History Museum.

On Friday afternoon, April 21, 1967, Northern Illinois suffered one of the worst tornado outbreaks in its history. At least 10 tornadoes touched down, resulting in 58 deaths, 1,000 injuries and more than a half-billion dollars in damage.

Laverne Allen’s house at 41 Ridge Lane, April 21, 1967.

Geneva was hit by that disastrous storm, but no lives were lost.

The storm came in shortly after 5 p.m. and first struck the south-west area at Dunstan Road and Marion Avenue, where corners of roofs were blown off houses. Taking down a few trees, the tornado then moved across Batavia Avenue south of Fargo Boulevard, dipping down near the river.

It then sped across the river to the Illinois State Training School for Girls on IL Route 25, where a roof was completely torn off of one of the large cottages. Thankfully, the girls who lived in this building were swimming at the State Boys School at that time.

Jack Smith’s house at 53 Ridge Lane, April 21, 1967.

The storm then whipped through the Ridgewood subdivision in 20 seconds. Geneva police compiled a list of 24 homes in the tornado’s path.

At least 14 homes were severely damaged or considered a total loss. Four people were taken to Community Hospital with minor injuries.

Ridgewood was closed to traffic after the storm, and only residents were allowed in the area. Damage in Geneva was estimated at half-a-million dollars.

To learn more about this event and other Geneva disasters including fires, floods, and blizzards, visit the Geneva History Museum’s new feature exhibition, “Disaster and Destruction Hit Geneva.”

This photographic exhibition opens Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, and will explore some of the disasters which helped shape Geneva and tell the stories of those who lived through them.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays with admission of $3 per person and free for museum members.

Looking out from Ridgewood subdivision toward Miner Enterprises, April 21, 1967.

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