Dakota Datebook: Aftermath of the Fargo Tornado

Dakota Datebook: Aftermath of the Fargo Tornado
June 21st, 2007


On June 20, 1957, a category F5 tornado ripped through the city of Fargo, leveling hundreds of homes in the residential Golden Ridge area on the northwestern edge of the city.  In the tornado’s aftermath, many reports of destruction and death were reported by news agencies throughout the state and country. The headlines of the evening edition of the Fargo Forum for June 22nd were: “President Declares Fargo Disaster Area.”

With debris scattered everywhere along the ravaged path of the tornado, the sobering numbers were slowly becoming known: 1464 homes were destroyed or damaged. Four churches, three schools and at least fifteen commercial buildings were damaged. Property damages were expected in the tens of millions of dollars. Hundreds of people were left homeless.

In the days that followed the tornado, Red Cross workers began the work of helping those most affected. Homeless shelters were quickly established. Sites were made ready to help with the distribution of clothing, food and water. The North Dakota National Guard was sent into the area. Thousands of calls were coming in from people around the world, checking on their loved ones.

Volunteer workers from surrounding communities continued to arrive in Fargo with truckloads of equipment to help clean up the debris. The heavy rains that followed the tornado only added to the relief effort’s problems.

But the most devastating number of all were the number of dead. The Fargo tornado of 1957 killed thirteen people. Of that number, one died years later as a result of injuries suffered in the tornado. The dead were residents of the Golden Ridge area, the hardest hit by the killer storm.

Of those killed, none was as tragic as that of the Gerald Munson family. Six of the Monson’s seven children were killed in the tornado that ravaged Fargo that day. The only surviving child was fourteen-year-old LeRoy Munson. The six Munson children that were killed ranged in age from sixteen months to sixteen years.

It would take months, and even years for some, to begin to recover from the aftermath of this killer tornado. The Fargo tornado on June 20, 1957 will certainly be remembered by many as the “Storm of the Century.”

Written by Dave Seifert

The Fargo Forum, Evening Edition, Tuesday, June 25, 1957
The Fargo Forum, Evening Edition, Sunday, June 23, 1957
The Fargo Forum, Saturday, June 23, 1957, pg. 1.


Dakota Datebook, Prairie Public (2007). http://www.prairiepublic.org/radio/

Subject Matter

Social Studies