This is the "1966 Tornado" page of the "Washburn University Archives and Special Collections" guide.
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Washburn University Archives and Special Collections  

Washburn University Archives and Special Collections
Last Updated: Sep 9, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

1966 Tornado Print Page


The Washburn University Archives and Special Collections offer access Monday through Friday by appointment.

Please note all of the materials in the Archives and Special Collections are non-circulating.



It is always best to make an appointment at least 24 hours in advance of your desire to work in the Washburn University Archives and Special Collections due to both personnel and space constraints.

This is best done by directly contacting the University Archivist Martha Imparato either by e-mail at and/or telephone at (785) 670-1981.


The 1966 Tornado

The funnel dropped down over Burnett's Mound shortly after 7 p.m. on a hot, sultry Wednesday evening--June 8. It was so big some said it looked like a wall of wind, not a funnel. It roared so fiercely that Topekans all over town thought it was directly over their homes. It was a tornado, Topeka's biggest, and one of the most destructive in history. After it had passed, there was no doubt. The only questions were how much damage had it done and what could be done to right things again.

Topeka Capital Journal, The Storm Story


Before the 1966 Tornado

An aerial view of Washburn University shows the campus in 1961.

1966 Tornado Image


Map of the 1966 Tornado

The tornado headed straight for Washburn, then turned and cut a path through the heart of the city. --map from The Day the Sky Fell, 1966 Topeka Capital-Journal special section, p. 5.

map of 1966 tornado path through Topeka


Aerial Photograph of the 1966 Tornado Damage

No building escaped damage from the June 8, 1966, F-5 tornado.

1966 Tornado Image


Photograph of the 1966 Tornado Damage

The destruction of campus viewed at ground level.

Notice the overturned car in the foreground, and that the boards and rocks in the picture were buildings on June 7, 1966!

1966 Tornado Image


Aerial Photograph of the Campus Post-1966 Tornado

Temporary trailer classrooms were set up in villages around campus, which allowed Fall 1966 classes to begin on schedule.

1966 Tornado Image


Painting of the 1966 Tornado

Washburn University Professor of Biology and Washburn College Alumnus Robert Kingman painted this picture as a memorial to the five buildings totally destroyed by the tornado.

1966 Tornado Image

University Archivist and Special Collections Librarian

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Martha Imparato
Contact Info
Washburn University Archives
Mabee Library Room 103
1700 SW College Avenue
Topeka, KS 66621
(785) 670-1981
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