American Disasters - Great Illinois Disasters

Reviewed Resources for Students and Teachers 


Great American Disasters State by State

Alabama  - Alaska  - Arizona  - Arkansas  - California  - Colorado  - Connecticut  - Delaware  - Florida  - Georgia  - Hawaii  - Idaho  - Illinois  - Indiana  - Iowa  - Kansas  - Kentucky  - Louisiana  - Maine  - Maryland  - Massachusetts  - Michigan  - Minnesota  - Mississippi  - Missouri  - Montana  - Nebraska  - Nevada  - New Hampshire  - New Jersey  - New Mexico  - New York  - North Carolina  - North Dakota  - Ohio  - Oklahoma  - Oregon  - Pennsylvania  - Rhode Island  - South Carolina  - South Dakota  - Tennessee  - Texas  - Utah  - Vermont  - Virginia  - Washington - West Virginia  - Wisconsin  - Wyoming 


These pages do not begin to cover all the disasters that have taken place in every state.  There is also controversy over what constitutes and defines a "great" disaster from any other kind.  All disasters are "great" to those directly involved in them.

So these pages are a mix of "great" and "not so great" disasters.  The major disasters are all covered in the larger sites I have linked to as resources and the rest are related items of interest.

For example, you might not find a particular major disaster on this list, but it will be included in a site such as, which is one of the resources found here.

This is an excellent place to begin your research.  The links found here lead to an ever widening amount of information.  Good luck in your efforts.

Go to Illinois Social Studies - Illinois History - Capital City Springfield, Illinois - Illinois Tourism - Illinois Disasters - Illinois Geography - Illinois Lesson Plans - Illinois Colleges and Universities


1919, July 21: Dirigible (Balloon) Crash __ "Two passengers, a mechanic and 10 employees of the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank died when the dirigible Winged Foot Express burned and fell through the skylight of the bank." A brief look. - illustrated - From Chicago Public Library -

1995 Chicago heat wave __ "The 1995 Chicago heat wave led to approximately 600 heat-related deaths over a period of five days." An encyclopedic article. - From wikipedia -

American Airlines Flight 191 __ "At 3:02 p.m. an American Airlines DC 10 was cleared for take off. Two hundred seventy one people were aboard; the plane carried a full load of fuel. Immediately after takeoff, the No.1 engine on the port side of the plane fell off." A brief overview of the crash. - From -

CPL Chicago: 1979, May 25: American Airlines Flight 191 __ "Historical information and source citations on the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 at O'Hare Airport, Chicago, May 25, 1979." - From -

Eastland Disaster July 24, 1915 __ "The excursion steamer Eastland slowly rolled over at 7:28 a.m. Saturday, July 24, 1915. She was still moored to her dock between LaSalle and Clark Streets on the south bank of the Chicago River. Of the 2,572 persons on board, 844 perished--making this Chicago's worst single disaster." A brief overview. - illustrated - From -
FEMA: Illinois State Disaster History __ Illinois Disaster History. Major Disaster Declarations. Click on the 'disaster #' on the right side of the list to access detailed information including images and more. - illustrated - From FEMA - 

Great Cherry Coal Mine Disaster __ " It began as a day like any other, except that the electrical system had broken down and the mines were lit the old-fashioned way. Kerosene torches were placed along the walls; but the miners were used to that and nobody was alarmed." A good look at the mine fire and links to related materials. - From The Illinois Labor History Society -

The Great Chicago Fire __ "The Great Chicago Fire was a conflagration that burned from Sunday October 8 to early Tuesday October 10, 1871, killing hundreds and destroying about four square miles in Chicago, Illinois." An encyclopedic article. - illustrated - From wikipedia -

The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory: Welcome __ You will find photos and drawings, articles, essays and eyewitness accounts of the October 9, 1871 fire that killed over 300 persons and destroyed much of the city. - illustrated - From Chicago Historical Society and the Trustees of Northwestern University - 

Historic Disasters: Illinois Disasters __ You will find a list of Illinois disasters. Each list entry is a live link to additional information. - From -


Illinois Earthquake Information __ An overview and history of Illinois earthquakes. - From -

Illinois Floods, Fires, Tornadoes, Mine ... __ "Events that touched our ancestor's lives: Illinois floods, fires, Tornadoes, hurricanes, storms, mining accidents, explosions, train wrecks, ..." Read first hand news accounts. - From - 

Illinois Tornadoes __ You will find a list of Illinois toprnadoes each linked to original news accounts of the event. - From -

Iroquois Theater Fire __ "Chicago's most deadly fire occurred less than a month after the opening of the new, supposedly fireproof Iroquois Theater at 24-28 W. Randolph. It was standing room only for a holiday matinee of the popular musical "Mr. Blue Beard, Jr." Of the 1,900 people in the audience, mostly women and children, 603 perished." A good look at the story. - From -

Iroquois Theater Fire __ "The Iroquois Theater Fire in Chicago, Illinois, claimed 602 lives on December 30, 1903. It is, as of 2007, the single-building fire in U.S. history with the most fatalities, claiming over 100 more fatalities than the Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston." An encyclopedic article. - illustrated - from wikipedia -

Naperville - April 25, 1946 __ "The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad's Advance Flyer bound for Nebraska had made an unscheduled stop at the Naperville station to attend to a maintenance problem when it was struck by the railroad's Exposition Flyer traveling at an estimated 80 mph." - illustrated - From -

Our Lady of Angels School Fire  __ "On December 1, 1958 sometime after 2:00 p.m., a fire started in a trash drum in the basement stairwell of the Our Lady of Angels school, 909 N. Avers. At approximately 2:40 p.m. the first still and box alarms were called in. Engine 85 arrived at 2:44 p.m. By then, the fire had burned undetected for at least 20 minutes." Learn about the fire and how it changed Illinois and Chicago fire laws. - From -

Tri-State Tornado __ "The Great Tri-State Tornado of Wednesday, March 18, 1925, crossed from south eastern Missouri, through southern Illinois, then into southwestern Indiana, and was the deadliest tornado in U.S. history. With 695 confirmed fatalities,..." An encyclopedic article. - illustrated - From wikipedia -

Tri-State Tornado in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana - 1925  __ "Widely considered the most powerful and devasting tornado in American history, the Great Tri-State Tornado ripped through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana on March 18, 1925. It's uninterrupted 219-mile treck killed 695 people, injured more than 2000, destroyed about 15,000 homes, and damaged more than 164 square miles. You will find a detailed report. - illustrated - From -



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