Waco Tornado 1953

On May 11, 1953, a destructive force tore through Waco and forever altered the face of the city. The tornado injured 600 people, took 114 lives, and damaged hundreds of businesses. Around 4:30, a tornado touched down southwest of Waco and tore through residential areas. At 4:36, it struck downtown Waco. The F-5 tornado cut a swath nearly one-third of a mile wide with winds up to 260 miles per hour. After tearing through downtown, it exited the city and continued northeast for several more miles. The tornado destroyed 196 buildings, and damaged hundreds of others so badly that they were later torn down. Some, such as the Dr Pepper bottling plant, withstood smaller amounts of damage which the owners later repaired. Outside of downtown, the tornado demolished nearly six hundred homes in East Waco. Though estimates vary, approximately $51 million of property damages occurred. The city received around $9 million in order to aid recovery, including federal assistance, a grant from the Red Cross, and private donations collected by local civic leaders. Some areas of the city never fully recovered.

Waco Tornado

On May 11, 1953, a destructive force tore through Waco and forever altered the face of the city. The tornado injured 600 people, took 114 lives, and damaged hundreds of businesses. The chaotic aftermath of this deadly storm left an indelible mark…

Roosevelt Hotel

Waco rapidly industrialized in the early decades from its founding. The arrival of the railroad and the building of the Suspension Bridge increased the numbers of travelers through the region, and the city soon became a thriving urban center. In…

Bridge Street

Bridge Street holds an important legacy of connecting North, South, and East Waco, and serving as a center of community for the city’s many ethnic groups. Known as Main Street during Waco’s early days, this historic street earned its new name after…

Amicable (ALICO) Building

After the Amicable Life Insurance Company opened for business on April 2, 1910, the owners began searching for a location to house their new business. The owners of First National Bank, located at Fifth Street and Austin Avenue, also served as…

Katy Park

In an era long before televisions and computers became household staples, Katy Park provided Wacoans with entertainment and a sense of community. Home to numerous minor league teams, the ballpark hosted many historic moments which today remain an…

First United Methodist Church

First United Methodist Church marks its founding year as 1850, when the Rev. Joseph Perkins Sneed, a circuit-riding Methodist minister, preached to the inhabitants of Waco Village at the foot of Jackson Street on the banks of the Brazos River. Legend…

R. T. Dennis and Co., Inc.

R. T. Dennis and Co. helped furnish the homes of Central Texas for nearly seventy years. Known for its exceptional quality furnishings, R. T. Dennis thrived in downtown Waco and served as the premier home décor destination. Unfortunately, the R. T.…

Dr Pepper Museum

Few major products are as closely identified with the people and environment where they began as Dr Pepper in Waco. Developing from a soft drink invented at a local drugstore to one of the largest and most popular industries in the world, Dr Pepper…