The April 3, 1974, tornado outbreak changed the Alabama landscape forever. Damage from those storms is still visible, and those who wish to view the damage can still do so. Most of the locations below can be viewed from public roadways, and we encourage those who wish to view the damage to get permission from property owners prior to entering private property.
Local tornado historian Chris Lisauckis reviewed the tracks of the tornadoes in the Huntsville, Alabama, area that night. "The tornadoes that evening tracked across North Alabama from southwest to northeast. The first wave of twisters moved from southwest of Tanner in Limestone County, through East Limestone and Harvest and into the Hazel Green area before moving into Tennessee. Additional tornadoes that evening moved from the Huntsville International Airport, moving across the Redstone Arsenal, striking McDonnell Elementary school and ending well past the Ryland area over Monte Sano Mountain."
Piney Creek crosses U.S. Highway 72 just east of Athens, Alabama. On the west side of the creek, there is a new subdivision called The Village at Piney Creek. By driving to the back of the subdivision, at the cul-de-sac, there is a tree permanently bent by the tornadoes of 1974. Also, by looking across the field, one can see another tree permanently bent in the opposite direction by the tornadoes.
Also on U.S. 72 east of Athens is a fruit orchard owned by the Isom family. Isom's Orchard was a location where some of the victims of the 1974 tornadoes died. Some of the trees here are slightly bent by the tornadoes of 1974.
Along U.S. Highway 31 in Tanner, Alabama, is a subdivision called the Houston Place subdivision. There are locations in this area where debris from the tornadoes is still visible.
Along Interstate 565 in Madison, Alabama, the Madison Golf Center is located. Local tornado expert and Skywarn spotter Chris Lisauckis reports that the trees bordering the east side of the golf center are damaged from the 1974 tornadoes.
Smith Vasser Road is located off of Nick Davis Road in the Harvest, Alabama, area. The remnants of a TVA high-tension power line tower are located in a field along this road. This tower was heavily damaged in the 1974 tornadoes. There is also tornado damage visible at the McCulley Mill Road and Nick Davis Road intersection in the East Limestone area of Limestone County, Alabama.
In the Ryland, Alabama, area, the cotton gin located at the railroad tracks was destroyed. There was damage to the Shiloh United Methodist Church that is still visible, and the house on the north side of the road just east of the church has two different color bricks as a result of repairs following the tornadoes.
The tornadoes from 1974 will be remembered forever here in the Tennessee Valley. Damage is still visible from the outbreak, and people also have vivid memories of the event, as well.
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