"Death Out Of Darkness" is a public safety documentary about the deadly tornadoes of the 11-April-1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak, which affected portions of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The film primarily focuses on the devastation across Northern and Central Indiana. Produced in 1966 by the Indiana State Police and WISH-TV in Indianapolis, narrated by Lt. Dave Levendoski. Video from visualarchivist on YouTube. There were 47 tornadoes in less than 12 hours. This was the 3rd deadliest tornado swarm in U.S. history. See Also: Ted Fujita


Below are personal recounts of the event. They have been submitted to us by our readers. If you would like to submit your story or photos please click the link in the upper right side of this blog.

50 Years Later: Palm Sunday Tornadoes

This is a great edition of The Goshen News with a special tribute section about the 1965 Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak. It's filled with photos, videos, recounts and memories.


Residents of Russiaville share their memories in a video HERE

WBST has a wonderful 30 minute tribute. They also have a photo gallery of the outbreak. HERE

50th Anniversary of the 1965 Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak

To honor the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak US National Weather Service Northern Indiana will be live tweeting the events of that day as they happened. They will begin around 1 PM EDT and conclude around 11 PM EDT. Follow along @NWSIWX and the hashtag ‪#‎PalmSunday50‬

Click to Enlarge

I Was Born by Flashlight at Huntington Hospital

Submitted by Dwayne C.

I was born April 11th 1965 Huntington,Ind. I was told that part of the hospital was damaged and that the hospital lost power. Was also told that the doctor delivered me by a flashlight.

Photo is not of this incident. Source is HERE

The Barn Was Gone

Submitted by Rick Wilson

I was 10 when the tornadoes went through, I lived in Coldwater Mich.. More specificly we lived about a mile from Coldwater lake. After the 1st twister went through, my grandad wanted to check on his cottages on the lake. When we tried one route it was blocked, so we turned around to try another road. It was a gravel road, there was a line of cars stuck behind a greyhound bus. So we turned around in a driveway, as we turned around I remember seeing a large red barn. The next day when we tried again to go to the lake, we went by the spot where the barn was, and it was gone! Hardly any evidence that a barn was ever there. I can still remember seeing an aluminum boat wrapped around the top of a tree, and a brick wall laid down almost in a solid piece on the ground next to the house it came off of. Also remember seeing 2 story houses with a wall ripped off the side, making it look like a full size dollhouse.

Photo is not original to this incident. It was created by Adaera and is titled Big Red Barn. You can view more of her work HERE

We Were Building a House

Submitted by Dave Hach

I wasn't yet 2 yrs old when my parents and I were tossed out of our trailer by one of those pairs. I always thought this picture was of the pair over Dunlap, my parents told me about watching it go by after crawling out of their wreckage at Midway. We were in the middle of the park and only got rolled over, some friends lost their trailer on the back row while they were out of town. We were building a house just south of town and my dad was kicking himself for not moving the trailer out there. It was many years before I could enjoy green skies and the EBS signal. Your story makes this picture much more personal. I remember the Arab sign but I thought it was closer to Green Rd. My folks have a notebook full of photos from a newspaper photog but I don't remember who it is/was.

Photo: Tornado Damage to Midway Trailer Court near Goshen, Indiana
Source: Fujita, et al, Monthly Weather Review, 1970

Devastation to Island Lake Illinois

Submitted by: Gail Longworth

When my family was allowed to go to what was left of our home, a place that I had lived my entire 13 years, I could not tell where my own street was, or where my best friends had lived. Houses around the lake didn't have basements, and dozens looked like they had literally been swept clean and dumped into the water. Traces of the storm were found during a drought many years later, including children's bikes and swings, personal items and memorabilia. It was a solemn reminder of what we had all seen. The only reason many, many more people weren't killed, in addition to a young child I knew, was that Transfiguration Catholic Parish, in Wauconda, was filled to capacity with families whose children were being confirmed. I think that Island Lake should have had at least a mention in your other commentators version of a era that is still referred to as "and after the tornado..." in this small town.

Photo from http://www.villageoftowerlakes.com/

Grandparents Car Flipped Over

Submitted by Don Weaver

Photo Credit South Bend Tribune
I was 5 years old but remember the evening quite clearly. I grew up on Southdale Dr. about a mile west of the Pierre Moran Mall. We were making plans to leave for evening services at Goshen College Mennonite Church, and I remember the sky being a very weird green as the thunderstorms rolled in. Mom had been watching TV and does not remember seeing any watches or warnings prior to leaving.

Just before we left home, a number of cornstalks dropped into the field behind our house and into our yard. I remember dad saying something about some pretty strong storms or maybe a tornado causing that sort of thing – the nearest harvested cornfield was a few miles away. We optimistically left for Goshen anyway; this was Palm Sunday for goodness sake and a little thunderstorm wouldn’t stop us from attending evening services. It turns out the tornado that destroyed the Dunlap trailer park (the double funnel one) had just gone by south of us but was too far away to be visible.

We drove east on Mishawaka Rd (CR-20) toward US-33 in high winds and occasional heavy rain. Just as we came to the curve at Concord High School an officer that had passed us in a squad car westbound only moments before turned on his lights and siren and came whipping back around us (I remember watching him turn around quickly through the back window) and stopped the Mishawaka and US-33 southbound traffic at the corner where they meet. As I remember it, we were the first or second car stopped as we pulled up to the intersection. The officer explained that a tornado had gone through US-33 between Dunlap and Goshen and the road was temporarily closed. We had no idea how bad it had been, so after a few minutes of waiting dad decided to see if we could find a route to Goshen through the country south of Dunlap.

We backtracked to CR-9 and headed south, only to find downed wires and debris across every county road. I don’t remember seeing any homes destroyed; I think we would have stopped had we seen a need to help someone. We just found downed poles, trees and wires (I remember dad contemplating squeezing the Volkswagen under a downed telephone pole and giving up on the idea after pulling up to it) and eventually backtracked to Hively and went east again to see if there was a way across to Goshen north of US-33. Dad really wanted to get to church, but by now we’d poked around for well over half an hour and were running late. We couldn’t get through on CR-115 north of US-33 and headed back west toward home on Hively. We were at the corner of Hively and South Main Street (US-33) when dad spotted the second tornado - the big one that went through Sunnyside just north of Dunlap.

I remember him trying to point it out to mom, my sister and I while we headed up US-33 toward downtown Elkhart as fast as we could to get away from it, saying “it’s right there” – it must have been a bit more obvious to an adult. All I remember is that by then it was pretty dark and I couldn’t identify the funnel. I just remember a lot of lightning and rain.

At that very same time my uncle (Roger Troyer) and aunt were driving to their home in Dunlap on US-33 and saw the tornado approaching. They stopped at a house and ran in the front door (no waiting for anyone to answer a doorbell!), yelling that a tornado was coming and went to the basement. I don’t believe that particular house was damaged, but they were pretty close to it.

We worked our way back home from downtown and mom, sis and I spent most of the night in a neighbor’s basement. Dad went back out to Sunnyside to help rescue efforts for a couple hours. He said they weren’t able to do much at that time in the dark without equipment.

I don’t think we learned until the next morning that my grandparents were in the hospital in Lagrange, their car having been flipped near Shipshewana’s Shore Mennonite Church by the same tornado that we saw at Sunnyside. My Grandpa remembered seeing telephone poles popping out of the ground in the rearview mirror just before the car went airborne, and my Grandma remembered a pole falling in front of the car – but the car went over it. Grandma ended up trapped in the overturned car, her legs sticking out the rear window, with cuts and bruises only. My grandfather got out and called for help, and the pastor of the Shore Mennonite Church recognized him by his voice as he was so covered in mud that he was unrecognizable otherwise.

The event left me with serious stress any time weather warnings were issued for months thereafter. It was so bad that I was on a tranquilizer prescription during bad weather until that summer, though I don’t remember that. My sister and I played “tornado” also, making siren sounds and simulating tornado damage on our toys.

So it’s a night I’ll never forget, even though we didn’t actually get hit by a tornado directly.

Photo Note: The above photo is via the South Bend Tribune and not of actual Grandparents car.

From Crystal Lake to Grayslake Illinois

From Rob S:

FYI, that tornado borne over Druce Lake, IL is in error. That tornado was airborne and came from the Crystal Lake, IL area, then hopped over Grayslake (damaging winds), then touched down over the Picket Fence Farm barns (completely stripped all the wood decking and shingles) on Washington Street east of Grayslake (today Rollins Savannah forest preserve main entrance), then hopped over Third Lake picnic park on Linden Lane, then dropped into Third Lake and sucked up large amounts of fresh water and sprayed the eastern shore of Druce Lake, IL. Third Lake and Druce Lake are side by side. My four brothers and my father witnessed that segment of the tornado. The clouds were a mixture of green and orange and red, the whole segment of that tornado lasted about 30-45 seconds and freaked the hell out of us. We lived on the west shore of Third Lake (Grayslake address) in the town of Avon. My neighbors found US mail in their yards addressed to residents of Woodstock, Crystal Lake, and Cary, IL.

Luckily, a neighbor kid pedaled his bicycle from the south end of the neighborhood, to the north end where we lived. He told us that his father heard a radio broadcast that a tornado was on the ground in Crystal Lake, IL and that the storm was headed northeast toward Grayslake. Of course, we refused to believe him (he stayed for the storm too) until the blue sky and chirping birds quickly disappeared less than 5 minutes later. My father moved all of us indoors inside a garage structure and piled blankets and canvas all around us. The garage building (art studio) creaked and moaned with the extreme storm pressure change, and old wood dust from the roof boards and rafters floated down onto our heads and clothes. We saw fence posts, trees, and telephone poles fly through the air like twigs. After the tornado passed, the sky's opened with heavy rain for about 3 minutes. Afterward, the sky was blue and clear, as if nothing ever happened, except for the damage to buildings and trees. We were very lucky. We talk about the Palm Sunday tornado often.

In addition: That 1965 Palm Sunday tornado from the Crystal Lake area traveled all the way to the Zion - Beach Park area. It likely skipped and bounced along the way. Radio (AM and FM) broadcasts alerted many residents that the tornado was on the ground in Crystal Lake, before it arrived in Third Lake. It's path seem to travel east, northeast along Druce Lake Road (now Washington Street), then tilted northeast slightly.

Photo: Survey of Tornado Damage, Crystal Lake IL, 12 April 1965. Source: Fujita, et al, Monthly Weather Review, 1970