I recently came across a photo from the early 1900s that shows the Barnum and Bailey Circus in disarray in Battle Creek after a tornado apparently ripped its way through the city. Although from what I’m seeing and trying to find online, there is very little information about this incident.

Most recently in southwest Michigan in between Mendon and: there are reports that a twister touchdown the night of July 12, 2023, so it almost seems like perfect timing to try and look into this. The photo is from 1909 and shows the members of the circus after the cyclone hit on August 4.


There are tons of farm animals, zebras, and camels that can be seen in the photo, but there are other photos online that show elephants that were taken outside, and lined up to avoid a stampede because of the storm. It was probably a wise decision, considering the tornado blew down a bunch of circus tents.

I’m not a genius but tornado plus blowing down circus tents in elephants can’t lead to anything good, so it was probably a good idea. But outside of these rare photos, there isn’t a whole lot to go off of. I’m curious if any of you have ever heard any stories about this disaster and have anything to contribute.

If so, feel free to drop me a line in the chat button on the Rocker app available below so we can add to this story.

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Tornadoes in Michigan, Early 1900s

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