Watch CBS News

Nearly 125 years ago, the "New Richmond Cyclone" tore through Wisconsin

“New Richmond Cyclone” of 1899 was deadliest tornado in Wisconsin history
“New Richmond Cyclone” of 1899 was deadliest tornado in Wisconsin history 01:53

NEW RICHMOND, Wis. — Wednesday marks the 125th anniversary of the "New Richmond Cyclone" of 1899, which, to this day, remains the deadliest tornado in Wisconsin's history.

"It looked like an atomic bomb had gone off here in city center," said Todd Kittel. He works at the Friday Memorial Library in New Richmond and calls himself the local history guy. 

"One of the huge myths is that the circus had been destroyed and there were wild animals running all over and none of that is true," Kittel said. "It was on the ground from one end in Richmond to the other, and tore right through the center of, like I said, where we're sitting right now, was absolute shambles."

One of the most incredible stories comes from the Methodist Church right across the street from the library. The church's original bell is still standing out front today. Even a Bible that's at least 130 years old survived after a wild ride.

"The altar Bible at the Methodist Church was discovered in a field a couple weeks later up near Deer Park, which is a little over 10 miles as the crow flies. It looks amazing," Kittel said.

It was a tragic twister killing 117, but Kittel said if there's something to take away, it's this reminder:

"Really bad things happen to good people all the time. They banded together, leaned on each other, and they got through it. And that's the life lesson," he said.

If you want to learn more about the storm and the incredible stories surrounding it, the library is putting on a free talk next Wednesday, including WCCO's Mike Augustyniak.

Here is the link for more information.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.