Thursday, November 10, 2016

The "Mayo" Tornado

Erica Vetsch here:

I live in Rochester, Minnesota, which has a current population of about 110,000 people. Rochester is also home of the world famous Mayo Clinic. Last year, more than 1.3 million patients visited the Mayo Clinic which employs more than 35,000 doctors, nurses, and health care professionals at both the Clinic and the two hospitals run by the Clinic.

Photo Courtesy of

But back in 1883, the population of Rochester was only 5,000 residents, and there were NO hospitals. So how did a small town in southeast Minnesota become the home of the #1 healthcare center in the United States in 2016 (as per US News and World Report)?

A tornado.

In August of 1883, a series of tornadoes hit SE Minnesota, causing nearly 40 deaths and 200 injuries. An estimated F5 tornado wreaked a path of destruction through the center of Rochester in the late afternoon.

A bit of the devastation caused by the tornado.

With no hospital to treat the wounded, a dance hall downtown was cleared out and Dr. William W. Mayo and his two sons, Charlie and Will, began treating the injured. Sister Mary Alfred of the Sisters of St. Francis Convent in Rochester aided in the efforts.

In the aftermath of the storm, Sister Mary Alfred determined to found a hospital in Rochester. Her only request was that Dr. William Worrell Mayo be the chief physician of the new establishment. The Sisters of St. Francis raised the funds, and by 1889, St. Mary's opened as a 27 bed, 1 Operating Room hospital.

Sisters of St. Francis at St. Mary's Hosptial

The building has been under constant renovation and expansion over the last 125+ years.  Currently, St. Mary's Hospital has more than 1200 hospital beds and more than 50 operating rooms.

An aerial shot of St. Mary's's actually undergoing
a major construction project to enlarge it once again. 

Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and romance, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.

You can visit her online at and on Facebook at Erica Vetsch Author


  1. Thank you for sharing your informative post. Mayo Clinic is certainly a noted place for some of the best . Our country is very fortunate to have Mayo.

  2. Informative post about Rochester, MN and the development of medical care in the area. Mayo Clinic is a blessing in America.

  3. Very informative. Three of my husband's doctor's tried to get him into the Mayo Clinic, they wouldn't see him. It was very upsetting.

  4. Thanks for sharing...I never knew this. So cool.

  5. This is touching isn't it. I love what happens when people get determined to do good things.