Remembering the Pittsfield Tornado

It was 45 years ago this April 11 that a savage giant tornado swept across the night-time skies of northeast Ohio and left in its wake 17 people dead in Lorain and Cuyahoga County.

The worst of the damage was in the tiny community of Pittsfield, south of Oberlin.  Nine people were killed and many injured when the storm struck shortly after 11 PM on Palm Sunday.

I will be writing about the storm in my soon to be released memoir, “Tales From The Road” and about the mystery of the disappearance of a film documentary that I helped make the year following the storm.

The pictures above of the storm aftermath are taken from some outtakes of the video that was used to make the missing documentary and show some of the devastated areas around PIttsfield.  Some of the video was mine while other scenes were taken by Walt Glendenning from WEWS-TV5 and Ray Goll, who was a free-lance photographer for TV3 in 1965.

Steve Fogarty has written a story about the storm’s anniversary in the April 11 edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram or you can read ot online at

Today you can find a memorial marker in the small park at State Route 303 and 58 in Pittsfield.

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5 Responses to Remembering the Pittsfield Tornado

  1. Mary Klier says:

    My grandfather, Louis Klier was killed in the Pittsfield Tornado. He is a hero in our family. He saved his daughter, my aunt, by letting a wall fall on him instead of his daughter. The tornado affected our family in so many ways. To this day we still remember the devastation this tornado had on our family.
    Mary Klier

  2. Russ Krueger says:

    At that time, we lived in Medina. We had heard of what happened in Pittsfield, and drove up to see it. I was only 5, but I remember seeing the church steps leading up to where a church used to be, but was no more. It left an indelible impression on me. I can still see it in my mind.

  3. Debra Brandow Castro says:

    I also saw this tornado. I was in Greenacres, an orphange for children. A shutter window on the second story blew open from the force of the wind and dumped rain on the little girl Christine who was sleeping under the window. She screamed for me, all the girls ran to the window, screaming for our housemother Mrs. Clark. As we got to the window it was too late to run, the tornado was coming straight at us. The sky was an erie green and purple, the smell of ozone surrounded us. The tornado was an angry black, large, swirling mass. Sweeping along the earth, destroying everything in it’s path. Just as the tornado was approaching the
    girls dorm, it lifted off the ground and went right over our building, leaving us untouched. My grandfather picked me up the following day and we drove to Medina through Pittsfield. I saw a shaft of wheat driven through an oak tree, in the cemetery statute of a soldier on a rearing horse was intact, but his saber was gone from his hand. A home was completely gone except the basement, the concrete front steps and two glass milk bottles sitting perfectly on the steps. I had nightmares for many years through my childhood of this tornado.

  4. Neil says:

    I don’t doubt that you did. A near-brush with a tornado is a terrifying experience. I have covered or been involved with dozens of them over the last half-century and never ceases to amaze me the destruction and the power contained in these storms.

  5. Debra Brandow Castro says:

    Thank you Neil, for remembering this very bad tornado! I have often wondered if I might someday come into contact with any of my friends from those days in the orphange. The original Greenacres Orphange buildings have been torn down. They were located near Oberlin.

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