Category Archives: Disasters

Rainfall records, 1926

Two massive rainstorms made Springfield a virtual island on Sept. 8, 1926, flooding streets and basements, stranding autos, trains and streetcars, and leading to the electrocution of an Illinois Watch Co. worker. Even people using the Knights of Columbus swimming … Continue reading

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Seven children die in car/train accident, 1928

Seven young people – six siblings and a cousin – were killed on June 5, 1928, when the car they were in drove in front of a southbound Interurban train near Auburn. The car was traveling west on Divernon Road. … Continue reading

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Johnston-Hatcher fires, 1907 & 1913

The Johnston-Hatcher Co. sold home furnishings of all kinds from 1899 to 1949 in downtown Springfield. The store, however, fell victim to two of the city’s most devastating early 20th-century fires. Johnston-Hatcher was the creation of two sets of brothers … Continue reading

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Ridgely School fire, 1916

Regular fire drills were credited with saving the lives of an unknown number of children when Ridgely School caught fire in the middle of classes on Nov. 15, 1916. The blaze began when sparks from the school’s coal furnace flew … Continue reading

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Carver Convalescent Center fire, 1972

Investigators never agreed on the cause of the fire that killed 10 residents of a shabby nursing home on May 6, 1972. The number of deaths make the fire at Carver Convalescent Center, 1527 E. Washington St., the worst single … Continue reading

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Boston Store fire, 1915

What was thought to be Springfield’s most disastrous fire ever, up to that point, demolished The Boston Store on the east side of the downtown square on Dec. 7, 1915. The Boston Store was part of a loosely affiliated chain … Continue reading

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Most costly fires in Springfield, 1904-48

The following list of the most destructive fires in Springfield history was published in the May 3, 1948, Illinois State Journal. The list is based solely on the amount of property damage. Damage estimates are not adjusted for inflation. Preliminary … Continue reading

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Stable fire, 1915

Fifty-one horses were “roasted and steamed to death” in a fire that destroyed a stable owned by Ira Dudley in the 900 block of East Washington Street on Sept. 15, 1915. The fire was discovered by two men walking along … Continue reading

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‘Boarding house horror’ fire, 1899

Three people died on Feb. 4, 1899, in a fire the Illinois State Journal called a “boarding house horror.” The victims – boarding house operator Martha “Mattie” Withey, retired grocer J.C. Hall and 67-year-old Helen Rose – were among 21 … Continue reading

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Western Cartridge Co. explosion, 1920

Four men were killed on June 24, 1920, when an explosion and fire wrecked part of a smokeless gunpowder plant northeast of Springfield. The Western Cartridge Co., based in East Alton, opened the plant in 1915. Powder manufactured in Springfield … Continue reading

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