January 22, 1904
On the night of Jan. 21, a storm blew into Moundville from the southwest, bringing moderate to heavy rains and gusty winds. But shortly after 1 a.m., a “funnel-shaped cloud, which had a phosphorescent glow and emitted blinding flashes of light” descended on the Hale County town. “Everything in the tornado’s path was swept aside” according to one account. “Great giants of the forest were twisted, bent and broken,” reported The Birmingham News the following day. The final, grim tally put the number of dead at 36, with 150 injured. Some victims were carried over 200 yards by the killer twister. Nearly 40 frame structures were destroyed. The town’s Griffin Hotel was “flattened” along with the town’s train depot, numerous homes, a grist mill and a livery stable. The tornado also wreaked havoc in the nearby, now-extinct hamlet of Hull, and debris was discovered as far as the village of Tidewater in Tuscaloosa County, about 19 miles to the northeast.
Read more at the National Weather Service.
Country store near Moundville, 1936. (Photograph by Walker Evans, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
General store interior. Moundville, 1936. (Photograph by Walker Evans, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
Cotton gin and wagons near Moundville, 1936. (Photograph by Walker Evans, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)
The Jones Archaeological Museum, located in Moundville Archaeological Park in Tuscaloosa County, opened in 1939. The museum underwent a $5 million renovation, and the newly expanded and remodeled facility opened to the public in 2010. The museum is named for Alabama state geologist Walter B. Jones, who led the original effort to preserve the site as a historic park. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, photo courtesy of the University of Alabama)
The Jones Archaeological Museum at Moundville Archaeological Park in Hale County was built in 1939 as a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps. to preserve and display the history of Native American artifacts, such as the nearby Moundville burial mounds. The museum is now part of University of Alabama Museums. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of the University of Alabama)
Moundville Archaeological Park, Moundville, 2010. (The George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.