National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

June 2, 1875
Counties:  Jefferson KY
F-scale:  F2
Deaths:  0
Injuries:  2 (known)
Path width:  880 yards
Path length:  3 miles
Time:  7:00pm local time
Notes:  This storm swept through the southern half of Louisville with the primary damage swath a mile wide.  However the actual tornado appears to have been about half a mile wide, embedded within the wind damage.  The tornado moved from west to east, generally bounded by Kentucky Street on the north and Oak Street on the south.  The first damage from the tornado took place along Eighteenth Street (today's Dixie Highway).  Large brick homes lost their roofs on 18th at Prentice and at Oak.  Proceeding to the east, some of the most concentrated damage was done along Harney and Churchill Streets (both now Saint Catherine) from Sixteenth Street to Tenth Street.  A stable was destroyed and a frame home "was knocked higher than a kite" on Harney between Fifteenth and Sixteenth (just east of today's California Park).  A frame cottage was entirely destroyed and a three-story brick residence lost its facade along Churchill between Fifteenth and Fourteenth.  Homes were unroofed on both the east and west sides of the intersection of Churchill at Thirteenth.  Cottages were destroyed on the southeast corner of Churchill and Twelfth.  A brick house on Twelfth between Churchill and Oldham was blown down.  Cottages were destroyed at Churchill and Eleventh and a brick house was blown down just south of that intersection.  In the block bordered by Kentucky, Oak, Eleventh, and Tenth (along Oldham Street) the Louisville Bridge Company building was wrecked, with only the northern part of it (which was on the northern fringe of the tornado) still standing.  The rest of the building was leveled to the ground.  Homes lost their roofs along Oak Street at Sixth, between Fifth and Fourth, and at Fourth.  Houses were damaged at Churchill and Fourth, and the Baptist Orphan's Home lost its roof at Churchill and First.  The tornado may have then turned to the left (northeast) as it caused F2-level damage to a two-story brick dwelling near the corner of Breckinridge and Preston.  It dissipated shortly thereafter.  Significant wind damage occurred outside the tornado's path.   Strong winds, possibly a result of a phenomenon known as a "rear flank downdraft" or RFD, blew down the length of Magnolia Street from Twelfth to Third.  Saints Mary and Elizabeth Hospital lost part of its roof at Twelfth, roofs were lost at Sixth, and homes were damaged at Fourth and Third.  As the tornado turned to the northeast, so did the RFD, and a two-and-a-half story house lost its roof in Germantown (which the 1875 newspaper described as a "remote suburb") at Mary and Logan Streets.  The final damages northeast of the tornado's endpoint were at Chestnut and Madison where a horse-and-buggy were turned over and at Main and Jackson (site of today's Slugger Field) where a tree was blown down.  However, some of the most significant damage of the storm took place almost a mile south of where this project feels the true tornado took place.  The Masonic Home for Widows and Orphans was located where DuPont Manual High School is today.  The facility was shaped somewhat like a squat capital "H," with the relatively longer sides of the H lined up along B Street and C Street (now Bloom Street and Cardinal Boulevard), and the short connecting section parallel to First and Second Streets (the two longer sides of the "H" had been stand-alone buildings, and were subsequently connected by the short middle section of the "H").  When the storm came through, the entire middle section of the building was obliterated.  It's interesting to note that the part that was destroyed was aligned north-south, so that a strong west wind, which would be typical of an RFD, would have hit it broadside.  Or, it's also possible that a small satellite vortex spun out of the main tornado to the north.  Fortunately the section that was demolished was so new that it hadn't even been moved in to yet.  However, two boys at the home were hurt.  Click here for an incredible picture of the damage (courtesy of the University of Louisville Photographic Archives).