FARGO F-5 FORCE TORNADO JUNE 1957
Oh. my.gaw. Tornado sirens are going off all over Bismarck. Dan reports there's nothing to be seen in the sky, and the dogs are howling their heads off, just like they do whenever the tornado siren test is held at 9:30 AM every last Friday of the month during tornado season.
I have lived in North Dakota all my life, and have never seen a tornado. But that doesn't mean I am never going to see one, does it? Dan is always the calm one, while I am running like a chicken with its head cut off trying to round up everyone including pets to the basement. (Ever tried to get a cat go to to the basement when she doesn't want to go?) Tonight, I sit relatively calmly at the computer.
I am especially wary this evening, as The Fargo Forum today ran the first part of a five-part series on the F-5 force tornado that devastated a large part of Fargo in June 1957. It killed 13 people, including six children from one family.
I knew about the Fargo tornado. In one of our journalism classrooms at UND, there was a copy of The Forum printed the day after the tornado, with the above photo. The Forum won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting the story.
What I didn't know, though, was that the tornado's damage was concentrated in the Golden Ridge area of Fargo. At that time in Fargo's history, the Forum's story today related, the Golden Ridge suburb was a lower-class neighborhood in many Fargoans' minds - with low-income people or renegades who didn't want to pay city taxes and follow city rules.
It took a tornado to change people's minds about the Golden Ridge residents, as other city residents reached out to help them with food and blankets, shelter and emotional comfort. After that, Golden Ridge was mentally absorbed into the City of Fargo, and today, of course, the boundaries of Fargo stretch far beyond what was then the northwest edge of the city.
Okay, the sirens are done, the dogs have quit howling, the tornado has moved northeast of Bismarck. All is calm.