The Week That Cannon Falls Burned
What got me on this subject is I was reminiscing about one of our neighbors where I grew up in Wisconsin. Their home burned in the summer and then their barn burned in the fall back in the 50's. Around 20 years later the house burned again and 20 years after that they had another house fire. I never heard of anything suspicious of these fires. As a result, I suspect the classmate who lived through two of the fires later became a fireman.
If you look back into history, fires were so very common back in pioneer days. I probably don't need to explain why with all the lanterns and wooden structures. Of interest, I noted that Owatonna organized a fire department in 1875. Several years later after the arrival of some new equipment, a test was conducted. Sadly a person slipped during the exercise and died after being run over by a wagon. The Owatonna fire department was disbanded in 1884 and then reorganized later that year. Firemen received a quarter for each meeting attended and a dollar for each fire they fought.
While most communities in days of yore suffered numerous fires, this week is the anniversaries of some big-time fires in nearby Cannon Falls. It was May 21 of 1884 that a general store caught fire and the fire then spread to a neighboring warehouse and then onto another store. A bucket brigade using the water from a pond along with moving their merchandise out of the other buildings into the street caused the fire to not claim as much damage. A rain began falling as well.
Almost exactly three years later, on May 20 of 1887, an even bigger fire struck Cannon Falls. A fire began behind a saloon and spread to the seven adjoining buildings wiping them all out. The wind picked up and six more buildings burned including a barn, photo gallery, and several warehouses. When all was said and done a total of 27 buildings were lost. This while tragic served as the impetus for reform which resulted in stricter building codes, the organization of a fire department and a city water system. This week is the dual anniversaries of noteworthy Cannon Falls fires. We are so fortunate today, aren't we?
The flower baskets are up in Owatonna