Welcome to Week #36 of Taphophile Tragics on this blog!  I hope you’ll share some comments, and some of your own posts.

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________________________________________________________________________This week, I’m writing about the fire in Peshtigo, Wisconsin on October 8, 1871.  That date may sound familiar if you know anything about Chicago history, as it was the date of the Great Chicago Fire.  However, many people who know about the Chicago fire have no idea about the devastating firestorm which occurred on the same date, north of Chicago, in the small town of Peshtigo.

Some of my family comes from Peshtigo, and although they didn’t arrive there until the late 1880s (after the fire), I have always known about the fire.  This summer, my husband and I drove up to Peshtigo and visited the Fire Museum, and their cemetery.

Peshtigo fire cem-Cemetery sign

You may read all about the firestorm here on this site, which has a great deal of information.  I’m just putting some information here on my post, but I’d encourage you to read more.

This fire on October 8, 1871 was the worst recorded forest fire in North American history, and in Peshtigo, basically decimated the town.   You will note that I use the word “firestorm” to describe it — and that’s what it was: a horrifying storm, a fire so huge that it creates its own wind system.   Because it draws in more oxygen than a regular fire, the heat is extremely intensified — hot enough to incinerate a person into ash.

The Peshtigo Fire Museum is adjacent to the Fire cemetery.  Their volunteers are very well versed in the events of the fire, and the museum, itself, is very nicely done. The artifacts from the fire are displayed and include a charred bible, where some of the words can still be read, even though the paper is blackened to a crisp.

Visiting the cemetery was sobering.  It’s in very nice condition, and they have several plaques which tell about some of the families.  They also have a mass grave for the 300 bodies which could not be identified.

Peshtigo fire cem-Mellen plaqueEvery October 8th, I take a few moments to remember not only the Chicago fire, but also the people of the town of Peshtigo.