1957 Fargo Tornado

June 20th, 1957. It would be determined later that there were five tornadoes in the Fargo area that day.  The first, a rope-like funnel near the rural community of Wheatland, did little damage. The second was a powerful funnel near Casselton, North Dakota, and it would have been devastating if not for the rural location.  The fourth and fifth funnel clouds were on the Minnesota side of the Red River, and both caused damage to nearby structures.  None of the tornadoes were as powerful, however, as the third funnel in the series–the Fargo Tornado.  It was a tragic coincidence that the most powerful storm of the five struck the most densely populated city in the region that day.

1957 Fargo Tornado

Fargo Forum Photographer Chet Gebert captured the photo above on the day of the storm. It is the most recognized image of the 1957 Fargo Tornado.

1957 Fargo Tornado

The panorama above was assembled from photos found in an estate sale in Washington State. The photographer and exact location are unknown, but the seller believed the photos came from the estate of a family named Klinsmann. You can barely make out the shape of a man standing beside his car. Below: A zoom view.

1957 Fargo Tornado

There’s a lot more about the 1957 Fargo Tornado (including more photos) in the book, Fargo Moorhead Lost and Found.

5 Replies to “1957 Fargo Tornado”

  1. Could you tell me the last names of the Families that lost their lives in this horrific tragedy and where they are buried?

  2. I’might assuming that the pic must have been taken in the Golden Ridge area, which was almost completely devastated. Damage like this did not occur on the Northside.

    1. That tornado started in Golden Ridge, but continued on the ground in a east south east direction it destroyed Shanley Auditorium and finally lifted off the in a field a half block from my home at 1145 1st Avenue North, my dad and I looked down the street and saw the devastation. Not sure where the picture was taken however.

      1. It seemed to jump around, hitting the ground and lifting. I lived at the corner of 9th street and 11th avenue. It missed us with little more than wind damage. Our church at 12th and 10th suffered roof damage as it made its way north and east. The tragedy was that the poor folks in Golden Ridge suffered extensively which they could little afford to do. I was 16 at the time.

  3. We lived on 13th St N close to 11th Ave. We lost the entire second story of our home. Our garage was the only standing garage, with the tornado winds leaving it entirely alone. The house to the south of us looked like a doll house because the entire side of the home was gone and we could see all the rooms.

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