The Mayo Clinic Developed As the Result of a Tornado



For residents of Rochester, Minnesota, August 21, 1883 began with oppressive heat and ominous stillness. By evening, the skies darkened and the winds began to roar. A tornado formed from these conditions, devastating most of the town and much of the outlying rural area. It killed dozens and injured hundreds, dropping people into cemeteries, scattering fish across the landscape, and plucking chickens bald. The small town had no hospital, so victims were taken to the Sisters of Saint Francis convent, where they were tended to by Dr. William Worrall Mayo and his sons, Will and Charlie. In 1919, the Mayo brothers and their wives established the Mayo Clinic as a not-for-profit organization, dedicated to excellence in patient care, research and education. The Mayos and their colleagues created a new way to practice medicine: teams of specialists who place the needs of the patient first. What began as a violent storm led to the establishment of the now world-famous Mayo Clinic.