Clinton County, Michigan
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Clinton County experienced a tornado on Sunday, March 28, 1920 which caused even more damage to St. Johns than did the heavy wind storm of May 12, 1956.
Riley, Bengal, Bingham and Greenbush townships also were heavily damaged by the 1920 twister as it ripped through the county from the southwest to northeast.
The 1920 storm struck St. Johns at 5 p.m., the same time of day that the 1956 storm hit here.
Most spectacular of the 1920 damage occurred at the three-story brick building on the southeast corner of Clinton avenue and Walker street.
The top story of the building, then occupied by the Fowler & ball hardware store, was picked up and deposited in Walker street.
The old Grand Trunk depot was demolished and five box cars on a siding were tipped over. The old depot stood a half block east of the present passenger station.
Industries which suffered heavy storm loss in 1920 were the Industrial Foundry company, the St. Johns Portable Building company and the F. C. Mason company.
The roof of the Congregational Church was raised by the tornado and a large feed barn at State and Brush streets was destroyed.
Many store fronts and windows were damaged, numerous trees were blown down and the city was without electrical and telephone service for several days.
About 50 barns and houses were blown down in Clinton county by the 1920 wind.
Records show a twister also hit the county in 1865 but touched ground only in uninhabited sections.
(The Republican-News June 28, 1956, section 8 page 4)
The Chapman School on the Riley-Bengal township line was also destroyed by this tornado.
Revised: June 13, 2009
Site Coordinator: Wayne Summers