Independence in Saint Louis County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
The Fires of Autumn 1918
The Cloquet-Moose Lake forest fire of October 12-13, 1918, which almost reached this location, was one of the most destructive forest fires in Minnesota's recorded history. Like other major fires, this one took place on cutover land the stumps and waste that remained after the great pine forests of northeastern Minnesota were harvested for lumber.
Consisting of five or six major fires and several smaller ones, the Cloquet-Moos Lake fire started during a severe drought in the fall of 1918. It burned 390 square miles. Official reports listed 453 people killed. Years later, in 1929, the State erected a monument in the Riverside Cemetery, in Moose Lake, commemorating the residents who lost their lives. Large portions of Cloquet, then known as "The white pine
capitol of the world," burned complete. Approximately 8,000 inhabitants evacuated ahead of the oncoming flames. The fire reached the east side of Duluth and burned homes in several neighborhoods before it stopped.
Massive public and private relief efforts helped survivors get back on their feet, but efforts
The events of 1918 were etched into the memories of people who lived through them, and the fire was always a reference point when talking about the past. Things were described as being either 'before the fire" or "after the fire."
To learn more, including stories of those who lived through the tragedy, read "The Fires of Autumn: the Cloquet-Moose Lake Disaster of 1918" by Francis M. Carroll and Franklin R. Raiter, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 1990.
Erected 2002 by Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Minnesota Historical Society marker series.
Location. 46° 57.594′ N, 92° 27.742′ W. Marker is in Independence, Minnesota, in Saint Louis County. Marker is on State Highway 53 near State Highway 33. The wayside is located between the north bound and the south bound lanes of US 53, just north of the Minnesota Route 33 interchange. You'll have to use MN 33 to reach the entrance to the wayside. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal Touch for directions.
Categories. • Disasters • Natural Resources • Notable Events •
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 23, 2009, by Christopher Light of Valparaiso, Indiana. This page has been viewed 1,335 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 23, 2009, by Christopher Light of Valparaiso, Indiana. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.