PESHTIGO, Wis (WFRV) – A somber anniversary for Peshtigo on Friday, as it marks 150 years since the deadly fire swept through town.
“It was overshadowed by the Chicago fire, and (that) fire lost far fewer people,” said Wendy Kahl from the Peshtigo Historical Society.
In an hour, 800 people died on Oct. 8, 1871. The Peshtigo fire remains the deadliest fire in U.S. history.
Of those that did survive, many of them died days later from smoke inhalation.
“The memorial is about people faced with impossible odds,” said a volunteer at a memorial unveiling outside the fire museum.
That memorial replaced a previous one that was made of wood and deteriorating.
“We are proud to be able to honor the people who suffered from this,” said Mary Lock, President of the Peshtigo Historical Society.
The weather on this anniversary is much different than the day that changed the town forever.
“They don’t know the exact number of how many people died because you know there were farmers out in the middle of nowhere whose births weren’t recorded, but birth records were destroyed and men were coming into town all the to work,” Kahl said.
In all, more than 1.3 million acres burned, flames destroyed more than two billion trees, and made 17 towns disappear altogether.
“We did survive, we did rebuild, we persevered, and we stand today,” added Kahl.