Peoples' Weather Map


Easter Tornado of 1913

Woodbine, Iowa

Nathaniel Otjen


The town of Woodbine is located along the Boyer River and was officially incorporated in 1877. On Woodbine’s earliest recorded Easter in 1913, a tornado struck around 6:30 in the evening.

According to the town’s newspaper — the Woodbine Twiner – Woodbine had a successful Easter day celebration. The Twiner reports that Easter Sunday had been overcast with the sky darkening in the late afternoon. The newspaper writes, “Very few people . . . were expecting a tornado, but nearly all felt that the atmosphere was peculiar.”

At about 6:30 p.m., a tornado struck the town, lasting for about five minutes. The tornado approached from the southwest and mowed a path two blocks wide through the southern portion of the business district and through the southern residence district.  A clock recovered from a demolished home after the tornado struck had its hands stuck at 6:22 p.m.

On the Twiner’s March 28th printing, they feature a list of forty-two residences on the front page that were seriously damaged from the storm.

The remains from part of Woodbine’s residential section. The back of this photograph says, “Ruins of Mrs. Earlewine’s house in the southwest part of town. She was taken from under the heating stove with her clothes on fire.”

The Twiner reported about the damage immediately following the tornado:

Next morning it would have been a hard job to pass up and down some of the residence streets even on horse back, so thick was the debris in some places, and much of it was made up of trees and broken limbs strewn pell-mell. It will take years to restore things to the normal in this particular. Houses and stores can be, and will be, rebuilt, but trees can not be grown in a single year.

In fact, after the tornado the Woodbine Twiner even printed on schedule. Fortunately, their building was spared from damage. The building next door, the livery stable, wasn’t as fortunate and was destroyed by the storm (see photo).

The Woodbine Twiner’s sign and building can be seen on the right side of this photograph. The Livery Stable next door was completely destroyed, but the newspaper was spared.

There were no lives lost from the tornado; however, half a dozen people were seriously injured. Most of the minor injuries were cuts and bruises caused by flying debris. The storm also uprooted and damaged many trees throughout Woodbine.

Despite the significant damage to property and individual lives in Woodbine, the town began to rebuild almost immediately. The Twiner reports, “All have taken the thing philosophically. There is no folding of arms and sitting down to grieve over spilled milk.” Added to the difficulties of rebuilding, Woodbine received three inches of snow in the days immediately following the storm. However, this didn’t seem to hinder the town’s determination to rebuild. “Masons, carpenters, every man in fact that can drive a nail or push a saw, is in demand and have been pressed into service. The difficulty, indeed, is to get men enough to do the work needed,” the Twiner wrote.

The Twiner reports that almost immediately following the storm, work to rebuild began on this business – Young and Kibler. [Woodbine Centennial]
Just five days after the tornado hit Woodbine, the Twiner wrote, “It is too early as yet to get accurate information as to rebuilding plans, but all business places destroyed or partially demolished will in all probability be rebuilt.” A week later, the main headlines on the front-page read: TORNADO SMITTEN, TOWN IS REPAIRING and PULLING THINGS TOGETHER AND TRYING TO FORGET THE HAVOC WROUGHT.

Photo reads: “Main Street After Tornado Woodbine IA”. Note the man in the middle sawing a board – the town almost immediately began to rebuild after the storm. [Then and Now Pictorial History Book]
The Twiner hypothesized a week after the tornado that “everything at least in the business part of the town will be rebuilt, and in substantial form.” This assumption proved to be correct —most of the town rebuilt quickly after the storm.

Caption: Much of the rail yard was damaged, however, a train continues to operate in the background. The Twiner reports on March 28: “The I.C. tracks were worst obstructed, but they had their track passable before morning.” [Woodbine Centennial]
Sources: SHSI: The Woodbine Twiner March 28, 1913 and April 4, 1913; Woodbine Centennial; Then and Now: A Pictorial History of Harrison County.