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May 30, 1879: The town of Irving, Kansas in the northeastern part of the state was a growing farm community with several hundred residents. Today, though Irving is a ghost town. On May 30, 1879, two tornadoes destroyed most of the town, leaving 19 dead and many more injured. Some residents left Irving, but the town was rebuilt, and new businesses arrived, allowing Irving to regain its prominence as a local agricultural center. During the summer of 1903, the Big Blue River flooded and destroyed homes, crops and bridges. The river threatened to do it again in 1908 but the townspeople were prepared and were able to keep the river within its banks. In 1910 the population was estimated at 403 and boasted "good banking facilities, a weekly newspaper, telegraph and express offices, grade schools, a public library, and churches. After plans for the construction of the Tuttle Creek Dam were announced, the population declined and many businesses, including the post office, closed. The townsite was abandoned in 1960 after the dam was constructed. The town fell victim to the ways of the weather on the great plans and what some would term – progress. Still the town lives on. It turns out that one of those who unfortunately died in the 1879 tornado was a young woman named Dorothy Gale, who was found without her shoes. Passing through the region just after the tornado was traveling salesman-turned-author Frank Baum. He would use the story to inspire him to write a book and the name of Dorothy would live on in his famous work, The Wizard of Oz.
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