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The 1974 Ankeny Tornado

The Ankeny Area Historical Society exhibit remembers the June 18, 1974, tornado that ripped through that community as well as Des Moines, Pleasant Hill, Runnells, Bondurant and Carlisle. It killed two people in Ankeny and injured 50.

The north and east sides of Des Moines saw heavy damage from the storm, according to the June 19 Des Moines Tribune. Portions of the porch and roof of the administration building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds collapsed, and roof damage was reported to other structures on the grounds.

Businesses on the east side were hit by the storm, including significant damage to the Porter hardware store on Hubbell Avenue. A number of streets were flooded and many residents lost power.

The Pleasant Hill Elks Club on East University was flattened by the winds and several area radio and television stations were knocked off the air when their towers were damaged or destroyed.

Collecting artifacts and personal memories related to the tornado is one way to keep local history alive, said Ankeny Area Historical Society member Rosemary Taylor. While the tornado caused destruction, Taylor said area residents were quick to rally after it passed.


I think it brought everyone together, she said. I think that nobody put themselves first — they put the community first.


©The Des Moines Register

An interview with Dennis Ballard, Ankeny Police Chief at the time of the1974 tornado

An Inteview with Mark Milner who survived being pulled from his car by the 1974 tornado

Below are photos from the day after the tornado. Left to right: Mark's car, the car interior, Parkview School, and Terrace Elementary.

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The Des Moines Ordnance Plant 

A Short Overview of the Ordnance Plant

An in-depth presentation about the Des Moines Ordnance Plant (1941-1945) in Ankeny.

Military Veteran Interview

Historical Ankeny Restaurants

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