This week marks the 50th anniversary of the OTHS tornado.
On Tuesday, Oct. 24, 1967 — a twister, probably an EF1 — touched down at about 12:20 p.m. on Orchard Street. From there, it skipped toward U.S. 50 and Lincoln, where it damaged houses, flung a garage and downed utility lines. But its main objective seemed to be the high school on Smiley Street.
The tornado entered school property at what was known as the horseshoe, an open area that’s now occupied by the school library. Most of the windows, about 25, in the administration offices were blown out, shades were ripped, and the roof was lifted and damaged. A metal storage cabinet was sucked from the wall, and report cards being sorted in the office were blown about. Also, about a dozen cars in the parking lot had windows broken, and the baseball backstop was flattened. Though school was in session at the time, there were no injuries.
75 years ago Oct. 29, 1942
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Another old landmark which provided employment for hundreds of miners in O’Fallon and the community for many years will soon only be a memory. It is the well-known Prairie Mine, where dismantling operations have been under way for the past week. Owners of the shaft decided to quit business and to sell the equipment, most of which will not bring more than “junk” prices, although there is machinery which was considered valuable at one time. (The coal mine entrance was located off Ashland, near Illinois 159 in Fairview Heights.)
50 years ago Oct. 26, 1967
William Robert Dorris, age 94, died last Thursday at his home at 501 N. Cherry. He taught in country schools in this area for 12 years, and in 1901, was instrumental in establishing O’Fallon Township High School. In 1903, he was one of the co-founders and original cashier of the First National Bank. He retired from the bank in 1961 after serving as president and then board of directors chairman.