October 1871 – Worst Fires In US History

Most people have heard of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but there were much worse fires burning at that time. Thousands of people were killed by massive fires in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario. There were also huge fires burning in the Rocky Mountains.

14 Oct 1871, Page 2 – Harrisburg Telegraph at Newspapers.com

The worst of these fires occurred at Peshtigo, Wisconsin, which killed more than 1,000 people.

The fire was fanned by a 12 mile wide “hurricane” which knocked many trees down and blocked escape from the city.


02 Oct 1872, Page 6 – Chicago Tribune at Newspapers.com

Minnesota was also on fire.

PRAIRIES IN FLAMES. – One Hundred and Fifty Miles Swept by Fire–Men, Women and Children Fleeing for Their Lives–Immense Loss of Property of all Kinds. Several Towns Destroyed–Great Damage Occasioned–Loss of Life. – View Article – NYTimes.com

The 1871 fires were much worse than any recent fires. But one thing that hasn’t changed since 1871 is an obsession with imaginary climate change. Atmospheric CO2 was below 300 PPM at the time.


If we could reduce CO2 levels to 300PPM, perhaps we could expect a return to the “safe climate” of 1871?

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10 Responses to October 1871 – Worst Fires In US History

  1. Adamant de-Nye-er says:

    Oxygen is poison. We won’t be safe until we can neutralize more of it!

    • Disillusioned says:

      That’s right AdN. O2 is increasing because of increased plant life breathing out this noxious gas, which in turn is providing energy for these fires. We need BigChem to spray the foliage. This is a man-made crisis that only corporatist global government can solve. We don’t need just another EPA Endangerment Finding – we need more Paris Accords (a few nicely-equipped Honda Accords would also be nice). We need laws to reduce atmospheric O2! We need to stop the insanity! Oh, wait….

  2. Garyh845 says:

    From another account:

    “At first glance, the idea that about five major, largely independent fires could have started on the exact same night – a more or less unique incident in history, at least as far as I can tell – may seem to ask too much of coincidence. Of course, it isn’t really a coincidence. The Wisconsin and Michigan fires were all the result of the same gale force winds blowing through a drought-ravaged area and spreading existing wildfires until they were entirely out of control. The connection to the Great Chicago Fire was perhaps a little more indirect, but the same conditions were there – if that barn at 137 DeKoven Street hadn’t ignited (for whatever reason), something else probably would have. The entire Midwest was one vast powder keg.”

    Sounds like Napa and Sanoma counties in CA.

    • kyle_fouro says:

      AZ fires can be devastating but not particularly attention grabbing, at least to locals, because practically every summer much of the state becomes a powder keg.

  3. Bob Hoye says:

    Hi Tony
    Off subject.
    A few months ago you ran the NIC chart of snow and ice cover N. Hemisphere.
    Been following it since. Usually posted weekly, but last entry was September 26.
    Nothing since.

  4. Andy DC says:

    If we were to give up our freedoms and had our wealth confiscated to fight “climate change”, we and our heirs would no doubt be very disappointed 20, 50 or 100 years from now to learn that we had been scammed, as the hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, droughts, floods and fires would still exist as they have always existed. The same goes for the long term glaciations and warms epochs that always have existed. The only thing we would have “gained” is an impoverished 16th Century way of living.

  5. Andy DC says:

    There were also awful fires in September 1881 in Michigan (particularly on the “thumb”) that killed 100’s of people. The death toll will never be known as many were burned beyond recognition and many people were free and independent hunters, foresters and trappers. Not in some stupid data base as everyone is today. In some sense, I imagine life was better, even if harder.

    The fire coincided with 100+ heat from Washington to Boston. Naval Observatory in DC was an incredible 108 degrees!

  6. The simultaneous appearance of 180 fires along the west coast, blamed entirely on strong winds does not address the possibility of small arson devices planted in hidden locations being detonated remotely by an enemy (N. Korea) at an opportune moment, as they had threatened.

  7. AZ1971 says:


    Thank you for this report on the Great Peshtigo Fire as I grew up in central Wisconsin and have heard about it all my life (and have seen the memorial plaque in Peshtigo when I’ve traveled through it.) The history and extent of the destruction has not been well analyzed in my opinion as it’s been overshadowed by the larger, uglier sister to the south i.e. Chicago. I’ve heard everything from arson to accident to lightning strike to meteorite impact as causes but the sheer extent of the destruction has always amazed me. That there were also other major fires around the New Ulm area of Minnesota, as the result of widespread regional drought, was completely new to me. Thank you! This was a fascinating read—and evidential that major wildfire losses have absolutely zero to do with the atmospheric CO2 content.

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