This Date in History: The Worst Fire in North American History

The worst fire in North American history took place on this date in 1871. The story is part of an essay on the Peshtigo Fire Cemetery page here on Landmark Hunter.

There were five fires in the Midwest that fateful night, including one you might have heard of in Chicago. There were other fires that night, most people are not aware of them. As bad as it was, the worst fire that night was not in Chicago.

Follow the link to read the story.

Comments  (2)

This Date in History: The Worst Fire in North American History
Posted October 11, 2010, by J.R. Manning (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

The fires really all were separate events, they all just happened to take place on the same night. The conditions were perfect for multiple disasters, and it is almost surprising that there weren't even more fires that night.

One of the contributing factors was the logging technique known as "clear cutting" where everything was cut down in an area. The trees and underbrush that were of no interest to the lumbering interests were either just left there or burned in bonfires. The left-behinds became tinder and this was the result.

It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to relive it.

Almost exactly 47 years later, 38 towns and villages were burned, 453 deaths were reported and 85 were seriously injured in a huge fire in and around Cloquet, Carlton County, Minnesota. In that October 12, 1918 fire, 6,000 barns, 4,000 homes and at least 40 schools went up in flames. The fire caused about $100 million in damage to the area.

The Soo Line Depot in Moose Lake http://landmarkhunter.com/196033-st-paul-minneapolis-and-sault-ste-marie-depot/ serves as a museum and fire memorial.

This Date in History: The Worst Fire in North American History
Posted October 10, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

This really is an interesting history because these various fires that are really part of a shared history are so often perceived as separate. I grew up in Port Huron, MI and the Great Michigan Fire was something I learned about as a young kid since it was local history (something often integrated into elementary curriculum), but I never learned about the Peshtigo Fire or even much about the Chicago fire until later in high school and college.