Guess Who Performed in Evansville: Part 6

*Post written by James Wethington, senior library assistant at the University Archives and Special Collections.

Welcome to another fun addition to Guess Who Performed in Evansville! Like last summer, we are looking at bands and musicians who came to Evansville in their hey-day. If you would like to reread the previous entries, check them at “Guess Who Performed in Evansville” on amUSIngArtifacts.

This blog is covering another rock band. This band is still popular and tours today after fifty years together. Here are three fun facts about this band:

  1. They formed in 1967 and had a different name (just shortening it by two words).
  2. They have sold more than 100 million records;
  3. They have produced twenty Top 10 hits and fifteen platinum and multiplatinum albums.
Can you guess who the musician is?

The band is Chicago.

Chicago formed in 1967 and originally started out the Chicago Transit Authority before they shorted the name. The band consisted of seven members: Walter Parazaider, Terry Kath, Danny Seraphine, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Robert Lamm, and Peter Cetera. Their debut album, Chicago Transit Authority, was released in 1969 after the group moved to Los Angeles from Chicago. The 1970’s proved to be good to the band from “Saturday in the Park”, “25 or 6 to 4”, and “Colour My World”, just to name a few. The ‘70’s may have been good to Chicago, but they experienced hardships, such as the death of their guitarist Terry Kath. Nonetheless, they rebounded in the 1980’s with their hit, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, charting to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Chicago began to experience more obstacles when an original band member, Peter Cetera left the group to start a solo career. After Cetera’s departure, Chicago continued performing and touring (and experienced numerous changes with band members joining and leaving); but Chicago did not reach to the same heights as they did in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Photographs from Greg Smith show Chicago performing in Evansville, there was no information on the concert from the Evansville Press and Evansville Courier newspapers in NewsBank database from the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library (EVPL). Chicago has since returned to Evansville to perform back in May 2018 at the Aiken Theatre.

Fans of the band Chicago in Evansville, Indiana in 1976.
Fans of Chicago in Evansville, Indiana, 1976. Source: UASC, Gregory Smith collection, MSS 034-0699.

For more information, the Greg Smith collection at the University Archives and Special Collections at the David L. Rice Library at the University of Southern Indiana has over 1,500 photographs of Evansville history available online. Take a moment to explore his photographs of athletic events, local businesses, and many more. Stay tuned for our next addition of Guess Who Performed in Evansville.

Reference Consulted

A Chicago story. (n.d.). Chicago. Retrieved April 14, 2020, from

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Remember When: Tri-State Tornado of 1925

*Post written by James Wethington, senior library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Tornado damage in Griffin, Indiana.

Soldier standing on Main Street in Griffin, Indiana, 1925. Source: UASC, Don Blair collection, MSS 247-5765.

Over the years, Indiana has had its fair share of weather stories such as the Blizzard of 1978, the Great Ohio River Flood of 1937, the 1974 Tornado Outbreak, just to name a few. Back in 1925, Doppler radar was not used, and weather was unpredictable, it still is today but has changed in the last hundred years. Back in March 1925, one tornado changed the course of history and not only affected one community but crossed over 200 miles of land. This was the Tri-State Tornado of 1925.

Picture it, March 18, 1925: Ellington, Missouri. It was a peaceful day until around 1:00 PM. The weather began to change, and a major storm was coming, causing the residents to panic. The National Weather Service in St. Louis and Paducah, Kentucky issued tornado watches for parts of “… southwest Missouri, southern Illinois, southwest Indiana, and portions of adjacent Kentucky” (National Weather Service Heritage, n.d.). A tornado formed, and no one knew what was going to happen next. Due to the lack of technology and resources for forecasting the weather, this tornado was basically unknown to most people. Once it touched down in Ellington, Missouri, the storm took its own course and many people did not know what was going to happen next.

Cars driving through Griffin, Indiana for tornado relief, 1925.

Tornado relief in Griffin, Indiana, 1925. Source: UASC, Don Blair collection, MSS 247-5757.

The tornado would move northwest and barreled through Missouri, affecting six more towns in this path. The storm did not stop there and continued into Illinois and crossing the Mississippi River. Once in Illinois, the tornado hit nine more towns, destroying the towns and killing hundreds of people. The last town affected by the tornado was Crossville, on the banks of the Wabash River. The tornado was about to hit Indiana.

Once the tornado crossed the Wabash River, it moved north and struck the town of Griffin. Photographs from the Don Blair collection at the University Archives and Special Collections at the University of Southern Indiana show the tornado’s destructive power in Griffin. The town was destroyed, and the residents of Griffin had to rebuild. The tornado did not last much longer: by 4:30 PM, the tornado dissipated in Pike County, Indiana.

In the wake of this tragedy, the tornado set numerous records, which have not been broken as of 2020. It is unknown if the 1925 Tri-State Tornado was one tornado or multiple tornadoes; however, the tornado is the longest continuous storm in US history at three and a half hours long. The tornado was estimated to have been 3/4-mile average path (at one point, a mile wide). This storm has the highest number of causalities in US history at 695 deaths. Over 2,000 people were injured and approximately 15,000 houses were destroyed in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.

  • Tri-State Tornado: At 4:00 PM on March 18, 1925, a tornado arrived in Indiana after devastating parts of Missouri and Illinois. The town of Griffin was destroyed; the Owensville area and Princeton suffered heavy losses. Hundreds were injured; 76 were killed. Within hours, help came from nearby towns, the American Red Cross, and Indiana National Guard.
  • Tri-State Tornado: Heavy rains caused the Wabash River to flood, and by March 23, 1925, the only way to reach Griffin was by boat or railroad. Within weeks, Griffin was slowly being rebuilt. After a year, much of the town was rebuilt, including a schoolhouse, one church, and a grain elevator. This tornado is still rated the deadliest in US weather history.
  • Memorial honoring the lives lost in Griffin, Indiana.

If you are interested in learning more about the 1925 Tri-State Tornado, the University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) housed in the David L. Rice Library at the University of Southern Indiana, has over twenty photographs from the Don Blair collection from Griffin, Indiana in the aftermath and recovery efforts of the 1925 Tri-State Tornado. If you would like to read more about the Tri-State Tornado, UASC and Rice Library has printed book and electronic books on the tornado such as:

References Consulted

Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2020, March 24). Tri-State tornado of 1925. Encyclopaedic Britannica.

Grabert, J. (2017, March 28). Tri-State Tornado destroys Griffin. Mount Vernon Democrat.

National Weather Service. (n.d.). 1925 tornado.

National Weather Service Heritage (n.d.). The Tri-State tornado of 1925.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Blue Bridge: An Owensboro Legend

*Post written by James Wethington, senior library assistant for the University Archives and Special Collections.

Glover Cary Bridge in Owensboro, Kentucky

Glover Cary Bridge (also known as the Blue Bridge) in Owensboro, Kentucky, 1941. Source: UASC, Thomas Mueller collection, MSS 247-1476.

Scattered along the Ohio River, bridges have connected the Tri-State region together and for travelers of the Midwest. They maybe concrete and steel but they are more than that. They are symbols of history and help connect local communities together. For example, the New Harmony Toll Bridge was iconic to the town of New Harmony, Indiana and Crossville, Illinois, as I previously wrote back in December 2017. One bridge that has stood over the mighty Ohio River for eighty years has been the Glover H. Cary Bridge, locally known as the Blue Bridge in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Before the bridge was opened in 1954, talks about building it started back in August 1937 in Congress. There were three reasons for a bridge were to improve the interstate commerce, improve the postal service, and provide for military and other purposes. Congress created the Owensboro Bridge Commission (OBC) oversee the construction, maintenance, and operation of the bridge near the city of Owensboro. Both Indiana and Kentucky would have to work together on the bridge project because it would be shared between the two states.

Postcard of the Owensboro Bridge.

Postcard of the Owensboro Bridge, circa 1970. Source: UASC, Evansville Postcard collection, RH 033-316.

The bridge was built and completed in June 1940. The construction cost $2,500,000 and the OBC determined a toll would be used to offset the cost. It proved to be a good decision because by September 1940, approximately 7,000 motorists used the bridge a week. It was designed as a cantilever bridge having four spans and over 2,640 feet long (or a half mile long). By 1941, the Owensboro Bridge was entered a national wide contest to see which bridge would be named as the most beautiful American bridge by the American Institute of Steel. It was runner-up to Susquehanna River Bridge in Maryland.

By 1952, the governors of Indiana and Kentucky started discussions whether tolls should continue. This discussion would last for a couple of years and would be successful in 1954. Indiana governor, George Craig, and Kentucky Governor, Lawrence Wetherby, met in French Lick to the toll and agreed the toll wasn’t needed. The tolls were eliminated on August 18, 1954; however, Indiana and Kentucky would share the maintenance cost for the bridge. Fun fact: Dr. Dan M. Griffith, a physician in Owensboro was the first and last individual to pay the toll. Over the years, the Owensboro Bridge hasn’t had to undergo massive construction or issues; however, the bridge was been repaved and painted to retain its blue color.

Owensboro Bridge between Owensboro, Kentucky and Indiana.

The Blue Bridge on the Ohio River, n.d. Source: UASC, Schlamp-Meyer Family collection, MSS 157-1940.

The photographs in this blog are from various collections at the University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) at the David L. Rice Library at the University of Southern Indiana. There are over 44,000 photographs, videos, audio files, and documents available for research. If you need assistance, please contact UASC at or (812) 228-5048.

References Consulted

Act Creating the Owensboro Bridge Commission, H. R. 7767, 75th Cong., 1st Sess. (1937). Retrieved from the Library of Congress (Chapter 629), April 22, 2020, from

Fees to end August 18: Plan celebration. (1954, July 29). Evansville Courier. Retrieved from

Glenn, B. (2018, September 18). Today in history: Owensboro bridge becomes toll free. Owensboro Times. Retrieved from

A new route to Owensboro, Ky. Points, and the south via Owensboro bridge. (1940, September 29). Evansville Courier. Retrieved from

7000 a week use Owensboro span. (1940, September 29). Sunday Courier and Press. Retrieved from

States to share costs span at Owensboro. (1954, July 31). Evansville Press. Retrieved from

Toll-free Owensboro bridge probably by 1957. (1952, February 23). Evansville Courier. Retrieved from

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grandpa, Tell Me About the “Hee Haw” Days

This gallery contains 10 photos.

*Post written by James Wethington, senior library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections. Long before Netflix, Hulu, or even cable, primetime television was where people could watch their favorite shows. With the help of a copy of TV … Continue reading

More Galleries | Leave a comment

Independence Day: ISUE Becomes USI

*Post written by James Wethington, senior library assistant at the University Archives and Special Collections.

2020 marked the 55th anniversary of the founding of the University of Southern Indiana (USI). Most students at USI may not know that USI was originally a satellite campus for Indiana State University (ISU), know from 1965 to 1985 as Indiana State University-Evansville, or ISUE. If it was not for ISU, there would not be a USI. ISU was instrumental in the creation of USI along with Ball State University (when it was first created in 1918).

Donna Mesker at "Free the Eagle" independence petition.

Donna Mesker at “Free the Eagle” independence petition. Source: UASC, UP 08339.

In the 1960’s, numerous businesses were closing and leaving Evansville, leaving many out of work. USI, then known as ISUE, started out as an idea by local community leaders and members. They wanted another public university in Evansville (the other option was the private institution, Evansville College, known as the University of Evansville, today). Once ISU was on board and supported the idea, ISUE became a reality! Classes started at ISUE in the fall of 1965 at the old Centennial School on the west side of Evansville. By 1970, ISUE was moving to the far-west side of Evansville at its current location. USI had a long road ahead before it could be known as USI.

It would take nine more years for ISUE’s independence to a legitimate topic of discussion. In 1984, legislators who supported the independence movement and two more big-named supporters were recognized: the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and then-Indiana Governor, Robert D. Orr (who was from Evansville). A legislative bill was proposed for ISUE independence and was passed in the Indiana Senate for further review in 1985, after a 12-year long battle. ISUE was finally going to become an independent university (Harper, 1984, pg. 1).

Governor Robert Orr signing independence bill in 1985.

Governor Robert Orr signing independence bill, 1985. Source: UASC, UP 19625.

After a long-awaited journey for independence, the Indiana Education Committee voted on Senate Bill #207. The committee passed the bill, 7 to 3. ISUE would finally be granted independence. The ISUE campus and Evansville community held an unprecedented celebration. On April 16, 1985, ISUE become USI: Governor Orr signed the independence bill in the Physical Activities Center (PAC) in front of 1,500 people (Harper, 1985). After the bill signing, Archie the Eagle had a ball and chain on his ankle: in front of a large crowd, the ball and chain was symbolically cut, symbolizing his newly gained “independence”.

Independence bill signing creating USI in 1985.

Independence bill signing creating USI, 1985. Source: UASC, UP 21610.

During the 50th anniversary of USI, the university released footage from the signing of the bill for USI’s independence and unchaining of Archie the Eagle. The clips are available below from YouTube on USI’s official page at

Happy independence day, USI! Fight on, Screaming Eagles!

Part 1: Mid-America Singers at Independence Day

Part 2: Signing of the Bill

Part 3: Unchaining the Eagle

References Consulted

Ball State University. (2020). History, landmarks, and traditions.

Embrey, M. (1985, January 31). Independence issues leaps first hurdle. The Shield.

Harper, S. (1984, November 15). Election proved to be a plus for independence. The Shield.

Harper, S. (1985, April 25). Gov. Orr signs independence bill. The Shield.

Indiana State University. (2020). History and traditions.

Phillips, E. D. & Dorsey, M. A. (1975, November 7). Board of Trustees call for more cooperation; ‘working partnership’ replaces independence. The Shield. pgs. 1, 3.

University of Southern Indiana. (2020). History.

Posted in Evansville, Indiana, Local history, USI | Leave a comment