White Tornado

I’ve been going through my photo archives and pulling a few notable images, and this is one of my favorites. I don’t remember exactly how I got this card, it must have been when I was on vacation in Okoboji when I was a kid. I have a small collection of local weather-disaster photos but this is the best image I have, even if it is in a terrible state of preservation. As far as I can determine, this is the first image ever captured of a tornado. Up to this time, film was not fast enough to capture a moving tornado, even after the invention of fast film, it took a while for a lucky photographer to be in the right place with their bulky view camera equipment.


Twin Lakes Cyclone, April 11, 1909


Even back to the early days of photography, there were stormchasers that mass-produced prints. Usually they came in the aftermath of the tornado and took photos of the devastated area, and sold stacks of prints to the locals as mementos.


Fonda Tornado March 26, 1921