Great Carthage Fire of 1884

From Jefferson County NY Wiki

Great Carthage Fire of 1884[edit | edit source]

On October 20, 1884 a fire started in some sawdust at the P.L. Eaton and C.E. Easton Sash and Blind Factory, on the west bank of Black River in Carthage. At the time there were a number of factories, mills, and businesses on either side of the Black River in Carthage, as well as on some of the islands.

By the time the fire alarm sounded at 11:10AM and the fire department arrived the fire had already spread to Harvey Farrar Tub Factory and was heading toward the Meyer & Ross Furniture Factory. A large pile of hemlock bark at the Revell Tannery also caught fire. At that time the fire department consisted of a steamer and two hose carts and a number of volunteers.

The fire department managed to save the tannery but by then Clark's gristmill and Rice's tub factory had caught fire and the church bell's on the east side of the Black River were ringing.

The strong wind helped to fuel and spread the fire via embers, leaves, and other smoldering debris as it jumped from roof to roof of the Guyot Island mills to Gibb's Shingle Mill. The carding mill, gristmill, and sawmill owned by Fred, Victor, and Minor Guyot were engulfed and the flames spread to Furnace Island and burned the Ryther and Pringle foundry. (see photos of the island factories on the Carthage page).

At this point the fire spread onto the east bank and began spreading to buildings on Brown, Furnace, and Mechanic Street and toward the residential section of Carthage.

It was brought under control only because the village's original cemetery, now called Monument Park, acted as a firebreak (as there wasn't much there to burn). But by this time it destroyed many if not most of the homes and businesses in Carthage, comprising over seventeen acres in the small village and between a hundred and fifty and two hundred buildings. Yet no one was killed.

Several pail and tub manufacturers were destroyed as well as the sash and blind factory where it first started, a pump factory, two planning mills, a tannery, four churches, two schools, an opera house, a village hall, and the mills. The fire had burned all the way to the north to Fulton Street, to the south to West and State Streets, to the east to the cemetery and Clinton Street, and on the west by Mechanic and River Streets.

The next day a local newspaper's headline read: "Saved By a Graveyard."

Carthage has had its share of fires. In 1861 fire destroyed twenty buildings in the village, and another fire destroyed more later in the year. Another smaller fire in 1872 destroyed more buildings. In 1884 the aforementioned fire destroyed much of Carthage and in 1899 another fire destroyed about nine buildings downtown. In 2002 the same buildings burned again, drawing out all of the fire departments in the area (see Carthage Fire of 2002). Some have called Carthage "The Town That Would Not Die".

The aftermath of the Great Carthage Fire of 1884
The aftermath of the Great Carthage Fire of 1884

Drawing from an 1864 atlas, with lines showing approximate boundaries of the burned part of Carthage.
Drawing from an 1864 atlas, with lines showing approximate boundaries of the burned part of Carthage.

Some of the preceding information and picture can be found on the display near the Farmer's Market Pavilion off from Riverside Drive, Carthage.

Mill Ruins
Mill Ruins

Other current photos of the ruins of this area can be found at OABONNY Site

Also See[edit | edit source]


Carthage Fire of 2002

Disasters & Catastrophes