Dakota Datebook

1882 Fire

Saturday, November 29, 2008


On a crisp November morning in Mandan, Mack and Drury’s was up in flames. In minutes, the fire devoured this local eatery, with Mack barely escaping with his life.

There was no calling 9-1-1, for this was 1882 in Dakota Territory. However, emergency services were alerted. Mandan had no fire engine, but Mandan’s superintendent telegraphed Bismarck’s mayor for assistance. Within fifteen minutes the Bismarck fire brigade and hundreds of volunteers rushed to aid Mandan. In thirty-five minutes they had crossed the Missouri by rail car and began dousing the fire with water from the rail car’s engines. When the last flames were squelched, Mandan had lost three hotels, a restaurant, a hardware store, and a grocery house, totaling $20,000 in damage. Despite the losses, Mandan was grateful for the prompt aid provided by its sister city.

Bismarck Tribune, December 1st, 1882

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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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