Category Archives: Disasters

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

Posted in Buildings, Business, Department stores, Disasters, Fires | 2 Comments

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

Posted in Crime and vice, Disasters, Fires | Leave a comment

‘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

Posted in Buildings, Disasters, Fires | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Business, Disasters, Industry, Military | Leave a comment

Windstorm hits Auburn mine, 1911

A violent windstorm demolished the headworks of the Solomon Mine south of Auburn on July 11, 1911, killing one man and injuring several more. The Illinois State Register covered the devastation: The storm approached Auburn from the northeast and all … Continue reading

Posted in Coal mines and mining, Disasters, Photos and photosets | Leave a comment

Chatham mine cave-in, 1910

The cave-in of an abandoned coal mine on Oct. 15, 1910, caused some nervous moments in Chatham, but turned out not to be a serious danger. The mine, originally opened by the Chatham-Virden Coal Co. about 1900, was closed a … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Coal mines and mining, Disasters, Industry | 2 Comments

Springfield High School explosions, 1932

Two firefighters and a janitor were killed when mystery explosions wrecked a storeroom at Springfield High School on March 20, 1932. A total of 13 people were injured by the blasts, which were never fully explained. The school’s night watchman … Continue reading

Posted in Disasters, Education, Schools and school districts | Leave a comment

Green Beret accident, 1966 Illinois State Fair

Three people died and 38 more were injured on Aug. 20, 1966, as Illinois State Fair workers were preparing a catwalk for a planned demonstration by U.S. Army Green Berets. The accident was the worst ever in state fair history. … Continue reading

Posted in Amusements, Disasters | 7 Comments

Flu epidemic, 1918-20

Health officials closed churches, schools and theaters, barred street gatherings and set up a special hospital at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, but the influenza epidemic of 1918 nonetheless killed more than 500 county residents. Second and third waves of flu appeared … Continue reading

Posted in Disasters, Medicine, Military, Public health | 4 Comments

Pawnee High School fire, 1958

Pawnee High School was demolished by a fire on Feb. 24, 1958, that was ignited by a student attempting to break into the school’s vault. Frank Carlos Ewing Jr., 15, admitted to Sangamon County sheriff’s investigators that he broke into … Continue reading

Posted in Buildings, Communities, Crime and vice, Disasters, Education, Law enforcement | 13 Comments