1958 Tornado Victims' Memorial
Kansas communities are no strangers to violent weather. El Dorado has a history of tornadic weather when the young town was struck in 1871, in 1905 and then again in 1914. But it was the "the backward tornado" on June 10, 1958 that remains in the memories of residents living here at the time. Older citizens recall that fateful day, June 10, 1958, fifty years ago, when El Doradoans were helpless against the fury of Mother Nature for two minutes. Thirteen people lost their lives and over 80 people sustained injuries as the tornado tore a 350 yard swath through the Graham Addition in southwest El Dorado. It tracked to the southeast instead of the normal northeasterly course, thereby earning the nickname "wrong-way, or backward tornado." On June 10, 2008 at 5:30 p.m. members of the El Dorado Rotary Club dedicated a memorial to the 13 victims who lost their lives to the 1958 tornado. The memorial was built with funds raised by the club, and features 13 pillars and a wind harp which captures the wind’s soft melody. The wind harp, designed by artist Ross Barrable of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, has been placed on top of a bending pedestal, which represents the community whose spirit was bent but not broken that day. At 5:45 p.m., the precise moment that the twister struck fifty years ago, the tornado sirens in town were sounded to commemorate the historic event. The memorial is a permanent fixture at Graham Park, 1600 Edgemoor, in El Dorado. Special guests at the memorial dedication were surviving family members and friends of those who were killed that day. A community wide reception was held following the ceremony. Photo by David Ellis.