On this day in 1868 at approximately 11:30 pm, a small fire started in the Marquette, Houghton and Ontanogon railway.
Three hours later, most of downtown Marquette was engulfed in flames due to high winds.
People gathered at Lower Harbor park today to learn more about that tragic night.
Historians say aside from the city’s founding, the great fire was the defining event that shaped the community of Marquette to be what it is today.
Jim Koski, Marquette Regional History Center said, ” From that fire the city that we now see grew, because one of the things that city founders decided that we could not do was build wooden buildings anymore. They had to make the buildings so they wouldn’t burn out of locally sourced material. Here in Marquette that meant mostly sandstone so if you ever wondered why there is so many sandstone buildings in Marquette, that’s why.”
Although the fire destroyed a vast majority of the downtown area, nobody was killed.
The total value of everything destroyed that night was one and a half million dollars, which would be equivalent to almost 30 million dollars today.