Hallowed Ground in Indiana
On Palm Sunday, 11 April 1965, a devastating tornado outbreak raked across the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley region. One of these was the famous “double tornado” photographed by Paul Huffman of the Elkhart Truth, looking NW from a spot along US-33, about two miles SE of Dunlap IN. The photo, one of the most recognized tornado pictures ever, is copyrighted, so I can’t reproduce it here. You can find it in numerous severe weather related publications, including Page 1068 of Significant Tornadoes by Tom Grazulis.
Here is what the place looks like these days, from a digital image I shot two days ago at that hallowed ground. This is within feet of where Huffman stood to capture his classic photo, and also looking NW.
Steve Eddy (WCM at NWS North Webster) was driving me from the WFO to my lodging in northern Elkhart and was kind enough to stop at the photo site and point out the various features. He told me that the exterminator billboard was there up until just a few years ago.
Despite the increasing snow and wind, I had to take advantage of a very wide traffic gap to shoot a digital pic. How strangely ironic it was that I experienced my first lake effect snow-squall right at that spot!
The double-funnel tornado crossed the road (and decimated the Midway Trailer Court) just beyond where that Lowe’s outlet is now. The squat billboard at right has steel piers and replaced the famous Arab Pest Control sign. During the 40 years (minus a month) since that photo, some trees died and others grew tall, the road widened, railroad utilities were replaced and buildings were razed and built, but still the spot was easily recognizable for me.
Having had the Goshen double-tornado picture on my bedroom wall as a kid, I had the strong sense — within less than a hundred feet before we stopped — that I suddenly had arrived in a very, very familiar place. Indeed, I have been there in spirit, traveling that time machine of the mind right back to that April two years before I was born, and that amazing site and time of one of the most spectacularly freakish tornado photos ever taken.
Even after all the great storm intercept pictures of the last 20-30 years, and the hundreds of tornado photos that I photocopied as a kid from every possible Dallas Public Library source, the double-funnel tornado near Goshen still stands among my favorite four or five. [Maybe I’ll rank my top all time tornado pics on the blog soon, just for fun.]