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Terrible Fire


On this date in 1893, the growing development of Fargo was struck by a terrible fire. It started on what was then Front Street – now called Main Avenue. Strong winds spread the fire, burning away most of the downtown area. Forty-two city blocks were destroyed, an estimated $3,000,000 in damage. However, the people of Fargo did not let this disaster bring them down, and within the next year, they had already constructed 246 new buildings, revitalizing the area.

In 1913, Fargo observed the twentieth anniversary of the fire with a mammoth parade featuring floats, trade displays, civic organizations and military groups. The anniversary coincided with a big Masonic homecoming week and Shrine Jubilee, which the Weekly Times-Record out of Valley City called "the greatest Masonic Event in recent years." It enticed many former Fargoans who had been involved with the Masonic Temple to make a return visit. As the Times-Record reported, "the first week in June will be a memorable one, not only to the Masonic fraternity, but the citizens of Fargo as every effort possible will be urged to bring back 'ye old timers.'" The week-long Masonic celebration ended with a large parade of its own … one of three huge parades within two days. And many of those visiting Masons stayed to observe the fire festival anniversary. Notable participants in that parade were the surviving members of four early-day volunteer firemen's organizations. Some were noted as being in their seventies.

The Bismarck Tribune reported of the festival, "Unlike most other cities, Fargoans do not regard the fire of a score of years ago today as having been a calamity. In fact, they view it rather as a blessing in disguise as it marked the birth of a new Fargo."

And the parades received nationwide attention, thanks to film companies that record the events. That footage was shown throughout the United States.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker



Bismarck Daily Tribune, June 8, 1913, p2, p4

The Weekly Times-Record, May 15, 1913, p9