Marquette still standing after great fire

146 years ago this month, downtown Marquette was ablaze with fire. A walking tour detailing the incident is hitting the streets tomorrow night and you can join in thanks to the Marquette Regional History Center.

The great downtown fire initially broke out on June 11th, 1868 at the machine shops of the Marquette and Ontonagon railroad. At that time, the downtown area was made mostly of wooden buildings.

So, in a short period of just four hours, the Marquette strip was no more.

“There was an entire section of downtown Marquette, a nine or 10 block area that was totally leveled by the fire, every single building, every single store, office was totally obliterated. In fact, the entire frontier town might have been destroyed, houses and all, except for one thing that kept the fire from spreading, If you want to know what that one thing is, you will have to go on the tour,” said Jim Koski, Marquette Regional History Center.

Koski promises the tour to be filled with surprises and details of how the city was able to rebuild so quickly. By the end of the year, new stores, offices and building were back in place.

“The city had a couple of changes that needed to be made and it’s because of those changes you see the Marquette that you see now as opposed to a different kind of Marquette and we will explain that on the tour. It’s a very easy stroll, you’re going to learn a lot and hopefully you are going to be amazed,” continued Koski.

As of tomorrow, it will have been exactly 146 years to the day since the inferno started. In remembrance, the walking tour will meet up at the firefighters memorial in Marquette at the lower harbor just before 6:30 p.m.

The tour is free but five dollar donations are recommended. Visit the Marquette Regional History Center for more information.