A Look Back at the 1998 Tornado Outbreak and The Hermitage

Weather
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The ninth worst tornado outbreak in Mid-State history happened on April 16, 1998. This outbreak spawned 13 tornadoes starting early in the morning and continuing through the afternoon.

A massive F-4 tornado killed three in Wayne County, and the state’s only F-5 on record rolled through the Deerfield community in Lawrence County. But it is the F-3 tornado that devastated downtown Nashville that many remember. 

The same tornado that damaged downtown Nashville also left a swath of destruction into Donelson and Hermitage. The Hermitage, the historic home of President Andrew Jackson, was spared, but the trees on surrounding the home were not.

More than 1,000 trees were either heavily damaged or completely uprooted as the tornado moved through the property. We spoke to Marsh Mullin, the VP of Museum Services & Chief Curator at The Hermitage, about what happened that day.

According to Mullins, they were able to get all guests safely sheltered as the storm approached and fortunately no one was injured. The Hermitage itself only suffered minor damage that was easily repaired. However, the damage to the trees was extensive.

The driveway of The Hermitage saw some of the worst damage. Many of the trees lining the drive that were lost were planted over two centuries ago during Andrew Jackson’s lifetime. Even today some of the damage is still visible on the property. 

Tree replanting started in 2000, two years after the tornado. They made the decision to only replant in areas where trees would have been during Andrew Jackson’s lifetime and also along visitor pathways for shade. 

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