Skip to comments.Chicago Meteor Shower Scary, Stunning & 'Kind Of Exciting' (Pics and Video)
Posted on 03/27/2003 1:34:24 PM PST by Shermy
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I'd be interested in seeing some newspaper accounts of 'fire from the sky' from that era to support a possible meteorite cause though ...
This drawing by artist Marshall Philyaw shows how the fire might have started in the O'Leary barn. Although purely conjecture, it is conjecture based on the inquiry testimony of Daniel Sullivan and Dennis Regan.
Both men testified that they were in the O'Leary home on the evening of October 8, but before the fire started. Sullivan told the fire officials that he had been to the barn "hundreds of times." He also testified that the barn had a wooden floor and that the boards were wet.
Perhaps the men left the O'Leary house together and walked to the barn to relax for a few minutes before going home. Did Sullivan's peg leg slip on the wet wood, causing him to stumble and drop his pipe into some hay or wood shavings? Or did he trip over Dennis Regan's feet?
Perhaps Regan, relaxing against the wall of the barn, suddenly stretched out his legs as Sullivan hobbled by, causing him to lose his balance and fall.
No one knows what really happened in the barn on October 8, 1871, but the evidence seems clear that the fire was not caused by Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicking over a lantern.
The Biggest BlazeFrom: http://www.ci.cedar-falls.ia.us/fire_dept/CFFD_prevention_wk.htm
While the Great Chicago Fire and its "cow culprit" was the best known blaze to erupt during this fiery two-day stretch, it wasn't the biggest. That distinction goes to the Peshtigo Fire, the most devastating forest fire in American history. The fire roared through Northeast Wisconsin, burning down 16 towns, killing 1200 people, and scorching 1.2 million acres before it was done.
Historical accounts of the fire say that the blaze began when several railroad workers clearing land for tracks unintentionally started a brush fire.
Before long, the fast-moving flames were whipping through the area "like a tornado," survivors said. It was the small town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin that suffered the worst damage. Within an hour, the entire town had been destroyed, and some 800 residents lost their lives.
Date sent: Mon, 01 Sep 1997 12:07:11 -0400 (EDT)From: http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/ccc/cc090197.html
From: HUMBPEIS Subject: Re: Great Chicago Fire
from: Mark Bailey Re: Great Chicago Fire:
The suggestion made in the film `Target Earth', that the Great
Peshtigo Fire was started by a meteorite or bolide does not fit with
the evidence in both Father Pernin's (1874) account and that of Robert Wells
(1968) [Refs: P. Pernin 1971, `Wisconsin Stories: the Great Peshtigo Fire',
State Historical Society of Wisconsin; R. W. Wells 1968, `Embers of
October', reprinted 1995 Peshtigo Historical Society]. Wells, however, does
mention a report by Phineas Eames, one of the Birch Creek farmers, who
describes an event which closely resembles a bright fireball. This occurs
one hour after the devastating Peshtigo Fire, and so could not have been the
cause of the latter even if the fireball had touched ground.
Because it's bunk perhaps?
The TV show interviewed a man named Robert Couvillion, a Peshtigo historian, who presented the evidence for a meteoric cause. He said the survivors talk about a horizontal tornado, with tremendous winds blowing fire everywhere. That does sound like a meteor blast, but take care: a large fire draws in air from around it, heats it up and blows it upward. This can create a huge horizontal draft, which is also consistent with the survivors' stories. He also said there were reports that sound like meteor activity before the fire, but this could simply have been embers being blow around. I've been fooled by chimneys before!
My point: I wish the show had presented someone else's view rather than this one man's. My first impression was one of amazement when this story unfolded, but now my skepticism has returned. It would be of tremendous historical significance if these fires were extraterrestrial in origin, but I need to see more research on it.
For more about the Peshtigo fire, take a look at a page from the Industrial Strength Woodworking site.
Also, my thanks to Bad Reader Russel Gowen for finding the name of the Peshtigo historian, and also for mentioning that CNN reaired the documentary on June 28, 1998.
And it begins with this introduction:
The Great Peshtigo Fire: An Eyewitness Account
by Reverend Peter Pernin
from the Wisconsin Magazine of History 1971
OCTOBER 8, 1971, marks the centennial of the two greatest natural catastrophes in the history of the Middle West. Ironically, both happened not only on the same day but almost at the same hour; both had been preceded by ample but disregarded omens; and both stemmed from the same fundamental causes--wood rendered tinder-dry by prolonged drought, plus the factor of human carelessness. In Chicago, a lantern thoughtlessly placed within kicking distance of a cow in a barn on De Koven Street is reputed to have set off the most destructive metropolitan blaze in the nation's history, resulting in a property damage of $200,000,000 and virtually annihilating the city's core.
In northeastern Wisconsin, fires set by hunters, Indians, lumberjacks, railroad workers, and farmers burning stumps and rubble culminated in the nation's worst forest fire, in terms of lives lost.
Although the Wisconsin fire ravaged 2,400 square miles and destroyed numerous settlements and isolated farms on both sides of Green Bay, it has gone down in history as the Peshtigo fire, because it was in this village and in the farming area immediately surrounding it that industry and population were the most concentrated, that the fire reached its greatest virulence, and that the majority of the fatalities occurred.
In the fall of 1871, like other localities to which the expanding railroads were bringing an undreamed prosperity, Peshtigo, on the river of the same name in Marinette County, was exploiting the surrounding forest lands to the fullest advantage. William G. Ogden, the Chicago millionaire, had invested heavily in what was then the country's largest wooden-ware factory to convert the river-borne logs into such articles as pails, tubs, broom handles, barrel covers, and clothespins. There was also a sawmill, a sash, door, and blind factory, a foundry and blacksmith shop, stores, hotels, a boarding house, and, to the villagers' considerable pride, a schoolhouse, and a Protestant as well as a Catholic church.
All this was as of the early evening of October 8, when the village's official population of 1,700 was swollen by an influx of recently arrived laborers to work on the railroad right-of-way, in addition to the usual number of salesmen, travelers, and visitors to be found in any similar village. By daylight less than 1,000 of this number were still alive, and only one structure, a partially constructed house, remained standing.
The occurrences of that dreadful night have never been accorded their proper place in the history of American disasters, primarily because Chicago's ordeal was by its very nature more spectacular, more universally publicized, and more often revived in print. Peshtigo's chief historians have been two journalists and a novelist, Frank Tilton--a Green Bay newspaperman who in 1871 put together a book of eyewitness accounts and his own reportage to sell for the benefit of the survivors--Robert W. Wells of the Milwaukee Journal, who in 1968 gave the Peshtigo story a skillful and readable reconstruction, and William F. Steuber, Jr., who in 1957 used the tragedy as the basis for a prize-winning novel.
Dang, that's good shootin'
Everybody keep your fries off of the meteor
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