New Exhibit & Online Gallery Highlight 1974 Xenia Tornado

Fifty years ago – on April 3, 1974 – an F-5 tornado tore through the heart of Xenia, killing 33 people and injuring more than 1,300 others. It bulldozed a path more than a half-mile wide, destroying or damaging more than 1,400 buildings, including 1,200 homes, dozens of businesses, 10 churches, and several schools. By the time it lifted into the sky near Cedarville, it left behind more than $100 million of damage in Greene County.

The Xenia tornado was part of a super outbreak, when 148 twisters swept across several states, killing 335 people in a 16-hour period on April 3-4, 1974. It still ranks as one of the largest natural disasters in American history, with Xenia the hardest hit community.

A new exhibit in our reading room commemorates the 1974 Xenia tornado, with photographs from our Dayton Daily News Archive. The exhibit was created by one of our student assistants, Darrell Blevins, who is also a graduate student in the Wright State University Master of History, Public History concentration, which trains future archivists and museum professionals.

Xenia Tornado 50th Anniversary Exhibit by Darrell Blevins

In addition to a curated display of photographs and information, more than 100 additional tornado photographs will also available for visitors to browse during their visit. No appointment is needed, just stop by any time during our open hours. This exhibit is free and open to the public.

Archival photo binders with more than 100 additional pictures will also be available for visitors to browse if they wish. No appointment (and no gloves!) required.

This exhibit will be available through at least the end of April 2024.


A more permanent and widely accessible visual resource is our 1974 Xenia Tornado online gallery in CORE Scholar, the university’s institutional repository. This online resource, available for free worldwide to anyone with internet access, includes more than 50 specially selected photographs, also from the Dayton Daily News Archive.

Screen shot of CORE Scholar 1974 Xenia tornado online gallery landing page


Additional sources of interest for history of the 1974 Xenia tornado:

If you have questions about the exhibit, the digital gallery, the tornado, or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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