The Bunker Hill Tornado

8 May

by Heather Gustafson-

The town I live in is Bunker Hill, Illinois. The most common way people give directions to their homes is “Go to the flag pole and…”  I’ve always wondered why they put a flag pole in the middle of the biggest intersection of Bunker Hill and curiosity got the best of me. In my research, I found that a gazebo used to site where the flagpole once stood. It was used for bands to perform in during special occasions and parades. Looking for more information, I found on the Bunker Hill Library’s website that in 1948 a huge tornado struck Bunker Hill with little warning. Up to 80 percent of the town was leveled, 19 people were killed, and 126 injured. Being about thirty minutes from the nearest hospital, and many people without homes, a refugee camp was set up at Meissner School which was one of the few buildings left standing. The school was used as refuge, a temporary treatment center for those injured, and a morgue until the injured and dead could be moved. To help with the devastation the Salvation Army, National Guard, Red Cross, American League and the Veterans of Foreign Wars post all pitched in to help Bunker Hill rebuild and cope with losses.The flag pole was later donated to replace the gazebo.


Meissner School in the Aftermath of the 1948 Tornado

I find it extremely interesting how much information I found searching for a flag pole in my town. A way of telling directions now has historical significance in my eyes. I encourage all of you to think of something simple in your town, something you pass by on a day to day bases and see if you can find history related to why it’s there.


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