Tornado of 1940
At 4:26 A.M. on Saturday, February 10, 1940, a tornado twisted its way through Albany for fifteen minutes, injuring 500, killing 20 and causing property damage of over $3,000,000 ($56,360,143 in today's dollars). Many who lived through it described the sound as "the noise of a thousand freight trains." In an interview with Juanita Tumlin by Tracy Tumlin, Juanita recalled:
My father went to Albany and saw the damage. He saw where the tornado had touched down on Newton Road, lifted, and then dipped on Commerce Street [now Oglethorpe Boulevard]. Then it lifted and then dipped on the 100 block of Washington Street destroying the Exchange National Bank Building on the corner o Pine and Washington. Some damage had been caused downtown but not as severe as the North Washington area. The A&P store on North Washington had the walls blown down, but the displays of groceries remained standing. It took the side walls away as if someone had removed them on purpose. Some of the buildings that were destroyed have not been replaced as of this day.
"Many who lived through it described the sound as 'the noise of a thousand freight trains.'"
The Albany Herald's Sunday, February 18, 1940 Tornado Pictorial Tabloid said, "Dougherty County's handsome 37-year-old courthouse and beautifully planted park were in the path of the tornado and suffered considerable damage. As can be seen from the [picture], the clocks and chimneys were blown away. The courthouse lawn was used as a camp site for Company 'H' 121st Infantry, Albany Guards, and the tents can be seen in front of the structure. The trees were either destroyed or badly damaged." You can see the 32-page bound Febrary 16, 1940 Albany Herald Pictorial Tabloid at Northwest Library. It includes a photograph of National Guard tents set up in the park near the courthouse and a scale drawing of the city showing the path of the tornado.