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1890 FIRE NEARLY DESTROYS DAWSON’S BUSINESS SECTION

Compiled By Bob Williamson 

 

 

Last updated 3/3/2012

Fire destroys a goodly portion of Dawson’s business section on June 9, 1890. 

The biggest fire loss that Dawson has ever sustained was over 122 years ago when almost the entire business section was destroyed.  The following interesting account of the fire is taken from a copy of the Dawson Independent of that week.  We are unable to learn where this issue of the paper was published as the Independent plant was destroyed in the fire, but presumably it was printed at Humboldt.

“At precisely four o’clock last Monday afternoon the hardware and implement house of J.W. Herlocker was discovered to be on fire.

   Charlie Herlocker went into the cellar to draw some gasoline.  Reaching the tank he turned the faucet and at the same instant the cellar was filled with flame. With a determined rush, Charlie reached the steps and came up and gave the alarm, but owing to the dense smoke the store could not be entered.

   The fire originated in the cellar among barrels of coal oil and a tank of gasoline, and was beyond all control a moment after it has started.  It was at once seen that the entire heart of the city was to be wiped out of existence by the dreaded fire in a very short time.  Citizens came to the scene of the fire and lent willing hands in saving what property they could. The intense heat and smoke prevented any work being done in at hardware so the work was confined to the saving of the implements.

   As soon as the fire got under headway terrific explosions took place, blowing debris a hundred feet high.  M.L. Libbee succeeded in saving what goods were in his show cases, but his magnificent stock of drugs, paints, oils etc. were all lost.  G.W. Jones barber shop was one door north of Herlocker’s implement and was quickly licked up by the flames.  Mr. Jones succeeded in saving almost everything.  Next came a two story building being used was a restaurant, under the management of Miss Sharshall, a young lady who was just getting a start  in business and was meeting with good success.  This building was dry and made an intense fire.  Miss Sharshall lost goods to the amount of about $70.  Next was the billiard hall of E.T Hanna.  Mr. Hanna saved a peanut roaster and a refrigerator, but his billiard tables were consumed.  Loss of $1100 and had no insurance.  But the fire still swept on and caught on the Buser building, occupied by the Independent Newspaper.  This building being the last in the row, everything was saved but considerable property was badly damaged.  Loss on the building was $1000 and no insurance.

   Mr. Herlocker is the heaviest loser, his loss being about $10,000, with no insurance.  By steady and hard work the part of the block occupied by S.C. Barlow and Son was saved.  Damage to stock and building was $1200 with insurance of $1000.

   Never did a crowd of men work more nobly in saving property and the rapidity with which Jim Burgett hauled water to the scene of the fire was admired by all.

   Mr. Herlocker came near losing his life in the flames.  He entered the burning hardware store to close the safe.  Being unable to find the safe because of the heat and smoke, he was almost suffocated and as he turned to come out, the floor gave way under the tons of shelf ware and began to sink.  One of Charlie’s legs went through the floor and summoning up all his strength, he scrambled out and rushed for the door, reaching the street in safety.  A moment after the floor and building fell in with an awful crash.

   Our populace was surprised to see E.T. Hama come dragging a lot of new lumber in among the ruins early Tuesday morning, and by noon Mr. Hana had a building half done.  He moved in that evening and in less than 24 hours after the fire was doing business in a new building.  Ed is a hustler.

   About half of Humboldt’s citizens came down Tuesday to see the ruins.  And in many instances help in the Dawson clean up.

   The following is a list of losses and insurance:  S.C. Barlow and Son loss $1200 with insurance of $1000; M.L. Libbee loss $2500 covered by $1000 insurance. J.W. Herlocker loss of $10,000 with no insurance; G. W. Jones loss of $75, no insurance; M. J. Sharshall, loss of $70, no insurance; E.T. Hana, loss of $1100, no insurance; E.W. Buser, loss of $1100, no insurance.  Most all of the merchants planned to borrow and rebuild.

   

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

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