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Word Count: 419
Widely considered the most devastating and powerful tornado in American history the Great Tri-State Tornado ripped through Missouri Illinois and Indiana on March 18 1925 In its 219-mile-long wake it left four completely destroyed towns six severely damaged ones 15000 destroyed homes and 2000 injured Most significantly 695 people were killed a record for a single tornado The Great Tri-State Tornado left a legacy that is evidenced by ghost towns lost ancestors and stories passed from generation to generation As a result 540 people died in southern Illinois in the following towns Gorham 37 Murphysboro 234 DeSoto 69 and West Frankfort 148 In addition 52 people died on farms and small settlements in southern Illinois The counties of Jackson Franklin Hamilton and White were affected within southern Illinois In Franklin County two communities were struck by the storm cloud The town of Parrish was virtually destroyed the town was never rebuilt and today it exists as a smattering of older homes One hundred forty-eight lives were lost in West Frankfort as were 20 of its homes and businesses In Jackson County the towns of Murphysboro and DeSoto were hardest hit Murphysboro suffered from 234 deaths while 40 percent of the homes were destroyed and strong winds and the fires that swept through town after the tornado damaged another 30 percent Witnesses recalled seeing the fires from as far as 60 miles away One person described seeing a Murphysboro house lifted into the air and then explodes like a bomb and others had similar stories Sixty-nine people died in DeSoto when approximately 30 of the town was destroyed During a 35-hour lifespan the devastating funnel cloud averaged a quarter-mile in width but at times grew as wide as a mile The tornado and its debris cloud were so large that they could scarcely be distinguished as such by some witnesses The enormity of the tornado and its ranking as the greatest tornado in American history
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