BRANSON, Mo. - As the southwest Missouri tourist mecca of Branson prepares to celebrate its centennial, organizers can't help but notice that disaster binds the city of today with the city of 100 years ago.
The EF-2 tornado that struck Feb. 29 brought winds of up to 130 mph as it hopped along the Branson Strip. The storm damaged about four dozen commercial structures, including six of the town's 50 theaters and 22 of its 200 hotels and motels.
It turns out that just months after the city was incorporated on April 1, 1912, a fire destroyed much of its downtown. According to the centennial website, the city did not have a fire department.
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