They are split-seconds frozen in time that tell the story of a place called Tennessee. The photos can be beautiful or ugly. They illustrate a split-second like Kevin Dyson’s near-win in the 2000 Superbowl. A fraction of a second earlier or later the photo would not have been nearly as dramatic. Or perhaps the scene has changed little. The natural beauty of Ansel Adam’s photos of the Smokey’s was enjoyed by him when he visited in the 1940s as it is today. And some notes on the photos – all of these can be found in various places throughout the internet. However where I could not find the owner of to the rights of the photo or royalties were cost-prohibitive, included only a link to the owner and or photographer’s website. There is a lot of use of copyrighted material without the owner’s permission but Across Tennessee will not participate in this practice.
Part 2 of a 2 part series remembering the 60th anniversary of Tennessee’s Deadliest Tornado Outbreak. Part 1 can be read here.
As midnight hit, residents of Tennessee towns, including Bolivar, Dyersberg and Moscow were searching for people, treating injured and trying to come to understand how their world of six hours earlier was so different from that moment. But the heavy weather had no signs of getting any lighter.
Part one of a two part series remembering the 60th anniversary of Tennessee’s deadliest tornado outbreak.
As spring began in 1952, Harry Truman was President and Gordon Browning was governor. US troops were involved in the Korean War. “Dragnet” and “I Love Lucy” had just been introduced that TV season. “The Greatest Show on Earth” was in the theaters and Elvis Presley was still a high school student. In West Tennessee weather felt more like an early May. Temperatures on March 21 hit 79 at Bolivar and Union City, 77 in Jackson and Brownsville and 75 in Moscow. But a cold front was poised to bring winter back for a while and drop the temperatures another 25 to 30 degrees. The official forecast in the afternoon paper was “Mostly cloudy this afternoon, tonight. Saturday; scattered thundershowers, windy and warm this afternoon and early tonight. Afternoon temperatures near 80. Cooler late tonight, low near 45.”
In eighteen hours sixty seven Tennesseans would die and another two hundred eighty three injured by tornados. Three hundred homes would be destroyed and more than six hundred others were damaged. Five more were killed in Middle Tennessee flash floods. Six million in property damage was the estimated loss- that is about $51.3 million in today’s dollars. It became – and still is- Tennessee’s deadliest tornado day. Sixty years later memories remain.
The country music hall of fame honors the legacy of country while shattering stereotypes. It is worth a visit even for those who associate the Ryman Auditorium with The Pixies concert or whose idea of Tennessee music is Three Six Mafia.