Sherburne History Center

Sherburne History Center
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Friday, November 20, 2015

Fire Prevention 1899 Style

We recently wrote about the devastating fire in Elk River in 1898.  We also mentioned the efforts towards fire prevention with brick construction in the business district.  The Star News on August 3, 1899 reported a new, advanced, method of fire suppression: The Houlton Block building installed a “system water works” running through the building with the help of a “hydraulic ram.” 

Added benefits to this new system, the Riverside Hotel connected to the system to provide water to the rooms, and “free watering trough” in front of the hotel would also be fed by this system.
The Elk River fire of 1898 devastated the city.  Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, Elk River in the post fire days emerged greater and stronger than ever.  Just a few years later, another fire in the city inspired the creation of public utilities and construction of the first Elk River water tower. 

Lessons learned from these tragedies were quickly applied to the growth of a great city in Sherburne County. 

Elk River circa 1898 prior to the fire