About the Peshtigo Fire

On the evening of October 8, 1871 the worst recorded forest fire in North American history raged through Northeastern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, destroying millions of dollars worth of property and timberland, and taking between 1,200 and 2,400 lives.
 
The great Midwestern city of Chicago also happened to endure a terrible fire that same fateful night. For whatever reasons, an irresistibly charming legend about a cow and a lantern caused the Chicago Fire to become part of the national consciousness while the Peshtigo tragedy gradually slipped into obscurity. It is remembered primarily by scholars, local old-timers and Wisconsin school children (who are required to study their state's history in the 4th grade).
 
In recent years America's forgotten fire has proven to be anything but. The tragedy is a subject of inquiry and debate among meteorologists, astronomers and conservationists. It has been dramatized by novelists and playwrights. It continues to fascinate history buffs and frustrate genealogists.
 
 
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Content Courtesy of Deana C. Hipke.
The Great Peshtigo Fire of 1871