Posted 5/19/21

FROM PAGE 1 day accidentally fired a large part of the city plat. For his part, then 42-year-old founding newspaper editor Mr. Bridgman took the smokestack version when he ran an edition with …

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day accidentally fired a large part of the city plat.

For his part, then 42-year-old founding newspaper editor Mr. Bridgman took the smokestack version when he ran an edition with pictures for posterity on May 26, 1906. Bridgman likewise had no personal reason to implicate the Northwestern Lumber Company with mill in present Fandry Park as responsible-the company, after all, had brought Mr. Bridgman to town ten years before, and was also the major city employer. Meanwhile, mill fires also weren't exactly unknown in towns back then made of stick lumber ("kindling"), with subpar roads that could turn to mud and impede the movement of fire apparatus through the city.

Ditch the ladder truck, this was the horse-drawn, mud and/ or cobblestone road age. Hoses, men, and all, would have come roaring out of the old City Hall, through the older Third Avenue doorway since made into a window space, while still retaining concrete reinforcements in the basement for the fire horses above. So just how bad was the fire that made Mrs. Cummins and others so afraid back in May of 1906?

Judging by a map on display at the Stanley Historical Society (opening soon!), it wasn't your typical campfire. All told and measured on a County GIS land map against the fire outline map kept at the local historical museum, the blaze of May 18, 1906 burned down almost 37 (36.82) acres on the north side. The old Dodge School and local library-both made of brick-survived, while stories of fire in the countryside from embers flying high that day were not unknown (Centennial Book). So how did people take it at the time, exactly?

"AMONG THE RUINS," page 2 of the May 26, 1906 newspaper said after the fire. Recounting the general story, Mr. Bridgman shared a list of those "who lost their home and in most cases all their household belongings except such as they wore," the list including C.B. Culbertson, along with the last names of Hoff, Isenberg, Johnson, Larson, Christenson, Allington, McCaffery, McKenzie, Oleson, Thorp (not the city namesake, but another), Thierl, Wallace, Wald, Solie, and Potter, among others, 78 in total.

At the same time, it was reported that the "People Take Heart Again," and that after two or three days, "the dawn of another week witnessed a re-awakening." Among those rebuilding was Mr. Culbertson in Moon Park, "on a portion of the land now owned by Dr. Burns," who in turn had taken over the Moon property when L.G. Moon and family left town for Sandpoint, Idaho just years earlier. The total insurance on the destroyed property, it was said then, "amounts to about $75,000, exclusive of North Western Lumber Co. losses." Mr. Culbertson carried about $25,000 of those losses through his insurance agency, while the "Citizen's Bank agency" carried another $30,000. As to the response, a special fire train came from Eau Claire, while Bridgman and staff gave kudos as well to the local citizenry: "Such scenes as were witnessed here at the close of last week are well calculated to bring out the best in us," he wrote. "Â…But a second thought reveals that there are even greater trails in life and those who have spared to them all the members of their family may well rejoice. A few months will suffice to eradicate the last scar of all that people suffered on this occasion." Saved from the fire, the old high school then just newly inaugurated became the site of graduation.

"The Senior Class of 1906 wish to remind you of the fact that the Class Cay Exercises will be held at the Gymnasium of the New High School Building Tuesday evening, June 6," the 'Yourself and Others' section related. Admission was listed at 25 cents, while a further report noted that, "Pat'k Finnegan," Carpenter and builder of Thorp begs to announce to the people of Stanley that he is now prepared to do building in their city," able to furnish plans and specifications. "All work done in a workman like manner." With things now rebuilt, let us remember May 18, 1906, the 'day that will never be forgot,' as it was told, long-long!-after the flames died out.

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