Cloquet Fire (1918): Topics in Chronicling America
In 1918, sparks from railroads and dry conditions led to one of the greatest fire disasters in Minnesota history. This guide provides access to materials related to the "Cloquet Fire" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
A large section of northern Minnesota today was a smoldering ruin...Latest estimates place the death lists at 1,000. Hundreds are more or less seriously burned; thousands are destitute and homeless, and the property loss will reach many millions,” read the Bismarck Tribune on October 14, 1918. The Cloquet Fire of 1918 remains one of the deadliest disasters in Minnesota history and will forever hold a special place in Minnesota history. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
October 10, 1918
Fire is noticed by two railroad workers near Cloquet, Minnesota.
October 12, 1918
Near Cloquet, forest rangers warn citizens to flee the oncoming flames.
October 14, 1918
Fire burns for nearly 4 days due to terrible drought conditions and gusty winds. Relief efforts, organized by Governor Burnquist begin arriving to Moose Lake and Turtle River.
Late October - November 1918
The National Guard, organized by Governor Burnquist, and led by Lt. Franklin of the National Guard, help administer relief to Cloquet and begin rebuilding. Burnquist establishes the Pioneer Fire Relief Fund to aid the rebuilding process.