THE SPRAGUE FIRE of August 3, 1895  



Quoted from The Sprague Herald                                                     

Vol. 8 No 18 of Aug 7, 1895

Submitted by Marge Womach


Sprague, the most progressive and prosperous city of its size in all the Pacific Northwest, peopled by a prosperous, contented people; a city that last Saturday was one of the proudest cities on earth, is today a waste of blackened ruins, its peoples homeless, many of them with complete ruin staring them in the faceóand all from a spark of fire from a blacksmithís chimney.

At 11:30 AM, Saturday, an alarm of fire was given from the blacksmith shop of Archie McIntosh, adjoining Bryantís chop mill, facing Railroad Avenue. The flames had dry boards to feed upon, and in five minutesí time had enveloped the chop mill adjoining and was reaching out for other victims. Before the feed mill was half consumed, the fire had extended to the rear of the old Gehres & Hertrich building, occupied by the Sprague Independent, and with the rear end used by Gehres & Hertrich as a storeroom for all their oil. When this building became ignited, all hopes of saving any of the row of wooden buildings was gone, and it began to look doubtful for the balance of the city.

The wind was blowing due northeast, and the flames, fanned by it, spread rapidly. One building after another caught fire, and within thirty minutes after the first alarm was given, all the business portion of Sprague was in flames, and at 2 PM, nothing was left of the business part of Sprague but a few blackened and shapeless piles of brick and stoneóthe smoldering embers of a once prosperous commercial giant.

Never, in so short a space of time, was such terrible and complete ruin wrought by the fire fiend. Absolutely nothing was left in its track,  from the time the flames left the new Gehres & Hertrich brick block to mark the spot where it began, until they had wiped out every business and dwelling house, church and saloon, from D Street east, a distance of more than half a mile. A space of four blocks wide by half a mile in length, containing property valued at nearly two million dollars, was left in that two hoursí march, smoldering in ruin. From the well filled stocks of our merchants, little or nothing was saved, and what was saved was so badly soiled as to be almost valueless.

The Sprague Fire Department, assisted by the citizens, fought hard to stay the conflagration, but to stop it was impossible. Before its onward rush, everything was forced to give way, and in less time than it takes to tell it, almost the entire business portion of the town was in ruins. Block after block of costly stores were enwrapped in the lurid flames, until it seemed as though the whole city had been fired at one touch. The wind was in the fireís favor, and spurred it on to renewed efforts, hastening the work of destruction.

It was all over soon, but the memory of it will live forever in the minds of the citizens of Sprague.



Bryantís feed mill & wood yard and McIntoshís blacksmith shop and corral. The old Gehres & Hertrich building, occupied by the Independent office, also used by Gehres & Hertrich as an ice house and oil storeroom.

Murphy & Burnsí building, occupied by Dr Jacobs as dental parlors.

Jim Leeís wash house, owner unknown.

Stooke & Ameryís feed store.

Starling & Meadís blacksmith shop.

Sprague Livery barn owned by J L Garvey, and unoccupied.

Stooke & Ameryís implement warehouse, full of farming implements.

R E Winterís saloon and contents.

Commercial Hotel, sample rooms and bar, owned by Geo F Gehnighoff.

Littlefield & Charboneauís store, the Model Restaurant and the Sprague Packing Co, buildings all owned by H M Schneider and occupied as business houses by firms mentioned.

Littlefieldís Cash Store, J F Hallís general merchandise store, Post office, Fred Suppís shoe store, Davies & Co general merchandise store, the Mail, Stooke & Ameryís hardware store, and the offices of Cooper & Sanderson, Merritt & Salisbury, H N Martin, and the AOUW lodge room also occupied by the Maccabes, ORT, ORC, and other lodges, all buildings owned by E M Kinnear.

New York Racket Store, general merchandise, owned by Geo Murphy.

Kirkís Meat Market, building owned by Wm Kropke.

Mrs Heardís Millenery store and dwelling house.

Wm Buckleyís Tinshop in the K of P building.

Herbring Opera House, occupied by W H Oldís City Drug Store, and G H Gilpinís large general merchandise store; large empty store building; store building occupied by Wells the Jeweler and White the Tailor; all owned by Henry Herbring of The Dalles, Oregon.

Lee & Astrupís Saloon, building owned by Joe Wormald.

Cosgroveís Saloon, building owned by W H Olds.

Paul Heroldís barber shop; J W Weyerís shoe shop.

Chicago Store, general merchandise, stock owned by F D Morrill and the building owned by Sprague Lodge IOOF.

Ben Ettlesonís Saloon and W R Petersí Harness shop, buildings owned by Ben Ettleson.

Smithís barn and store, unoccupied.

Culross & Richardsí tailor shop; A W Hollandís real estate office; Inland Telephone Coís plant and office; buildings owned by strangers.

L Y Williamsí second hand store and W P Putnamsí drug store; office of Dr D W Buchanan, buildings owned by W P Putnam.

Masonic Hall, occupied by many secret societies; the Christian Church; buildings owned by Masonic Lodge.

County Jail.

A Van Allenís blacksmith shop.

Old Opera House, unoccupied, owned by Thos Dewant.

Hicksí residence.

E H Stantonís residence and barn.

R R Jonesí residence and empty store building.

D Winterís shoe shop and residence.

Robert Morrisonís dwelling.

N T Catonís law office.

A W Lowe and L Y Williamsí dwellings, owned by Mrs Rasch.

Methodist Church.

Frank Edmistonís dwelling, owned by Dr Olds.

City Hall and Troop Aís Armory and Sprague Fire Department.

City Jail.

Journal office, owned by J Moore & Co, San Francisco.

R Newman & Coís general mer-chandise store, overhead occupied by D Vinyard, Jackson Brock and J M Gunning.

J W Ryanís Saloon and new store building.

B B Whiteís buildings, occupied by Beardsleeís paint shop, Hagenís carpenter shop, Mrs Mooreís restaurant and Hickís hardware Store.

Jesse Moore & Coís vacant store building.

B B Burneís residence.

About ten small dwellings, owners unknown.

Lienrance & Astrupís saloon, Flaigís jewelry store and Mcquaidís fish market, all owned by Miss Minser of Tacoma.

J H Linderís cigar store.

J W Reedís jewelry store and the OK barber shop, owned by White.

Troyís City Restaurant, Frank Parker shoe shop, Eckhardtís cigar factory and an empty store owned by W P Murray.

J J Burnsí saloon, with lodge-rooms overhead.

J Moore & Sonís grocery store.

Sam Leeís wash house.

A McLennanís empty store building.

Silver Club Restaurant and Mint Saloon buildings, unoccupied, owned by P Clinton.

P Petersonís dwelling house.

Three vacant buildings, owned by John Bracken.


John Klebaís paint shop.

Mrs Ebellís dressmaking rooms; J Bartolís building; Mrs Lon Conleeís restaurant; Wm Evansí blacksmith shopóall owned by a stock company.

Garveyís livery barn and hay barns, owned by John Garvey.

National Hotel, owned by Mrs Jane Evans.

Peoples Party Co-Operative store.

S W Jansenís carpenter shop.

Charlie Wooís wash house, owned by Tom Dewant.

R B Hooperís residence, owned by Mrs A Sawyer.

Pacific Hotel and outbuildings, owned by J Sawyer.

Dwelling house, owned by Sawyer.

Free Coinage Restaurant of McGill & Bernard, owned by John Kirk.

Otto Arnoldís saloon.

All of ďWhitechapelĒ

Two dwelling houses owned by W J Slattery.

John Garveyís residence.

T J Allenís residence.

B Flaigís residence.

W Weyerís residence.

John Kirkís residence.

Mrs Nelsonís residence.

A J Turpinís residence.

Wm Schafferís residence.

R O Porakís brewery, ice house, barn and brick dwelling house.

James Barberís residence.

John Robertsí residence.

George Priceís residence.

James Burnsí residence.

W F Finleyís residence, owned by W J Cowing.

Vacant dwelling of J Fogarty.

A Wichmanís vacant dwelling.

Gus Manckeís residence, owned by A Riley.

Minnie Loweís residence.

Jim Rogerís dwelling.

A Millerís vacant dwelling house.

A dozen small dwellings, owned by shop men, names unknown.



Every piece of property from the Northern Pacific Elevator on the west to the Northern Pacific stockyards on the east, a distance of half a mile crowded with railroad property was burned. The list includes:

                N P Wheat Elevator.

                City depot and Western Union telegraph office.

                Old warehouse where material was stored.

                Two ice houses.

                Car repairerís office and oil rooms.

                Two coal sheds, and all the bunkers, containing about 400,000 tons of coal.

                Master Mechanicís office.

                Headquarters buildings, that cost $50,000 to build.

                Car shops.

                Machine shops.



                Oil House.

                Dry Houses.

                Two water tanks.

                Pump house.

                Section house, occupied by John Fogarty.

                Stock yards.

                Twenty-one locomotives.

                Ninety five freight cars and cabooses, many of them being in bad order, and only ten or fifteen of them being loaded.



                All these buildings were in the track of the fire, and all of them went. Those of our readers who are familiar with Sprague as she was will realize from the list our cityís terrible loss. To those who are not familiar with our city, it is only necessary to state that, from a city with nearly 200 business houses, only the bank, one hardware store, one drug store, one harness shop, three general merchandise stores, one furniture store, one photograph gallery, and one newspaper office, The Herald, are leftóasloe from the lumber yards and flouring mills, which were many blocks removed from the scene of the fire.

The following list, which, so far as it goes is accurate and may be relied upon, will give you an idea of the losses and insurance:  

Sprague Packing Co (10,000) no ins.

H M Schneider (6,000) no ins.

B B Burke (2,000) 1,000 ins.

Lieurance & Astrup (1,000) 400 ins.

H ___________ (________) ___

Co-Operative Store

Geo F Bennighoff

John Bartol & Co (800) no ins

J H Linder (800) 775 ins.

Murphy & Burns (18,000) 2,000 ins.

O K Barber Shop (100) no ins

A Wichman (200) no ins

Davies & Co (20,000) 3,500 ins.

Charlie Woo (300) no ins

W R White (1,000) 200 ins

R L Wells (500) no ins.

W H Olds (7,000) 3,350 ins.

Geo Cosgrove (2,500) no ins

Gehres & Hertrich (6,000) 600 ins

T F Meagher (2000) 500 ins.

W J Cowing (700) 450 ins

A Riley (600) 300 ins.

Mrs F W Littlefield (3,000) 1,750 ins.

J Moore & Son (5,300) 1,150 ins.

W Weyer (3,500) 200 ins.

B Flaig (600) 350 ins.

George Price (500) no ins.

W R Peters (300) 300 ins.

P Peterson (500) no ins.

Frank Parker (50) no ins.

Stooke & Amery (9,000) 5,200 ins.

R R Jones (1,000) no ins

J W Littlefield (1,800) 800 ins.

W F Finley (1,000) no ins.

John Garvey (2,500) 1,150 ins.

J W Ryan (10,000) 2,400 ins.

Henry Herbring (27,000) 6,000 ins.

A W Holland (900) 300 ins.

F L Edmiston (500) no ins.

G H Gilpin (23,000) 9,000 ins.

City of Sprague (14,000) 3,000 ins.

County of Lincoln (2,500) 2,000 ins.

J Culross (200) no ins.

Astrup & Lee (700) 325 ins.

R E Winters (1,000) 700 ins.

A J Turpin (300) no ins

Mrs Jane Evans (4,000) 2,000 ins.

Jas Burns (300) no ins.

F D Morrill (12,000) 2,000 ins.

Fred Stipps (500) no ins.

John Bracken (2,000) no ins.

John Kleba (500) no ins.

Ben Ettelson (2,100) 1,250 ins.

C Briggs (1,000) no ins.

C Hagen (100) no ins.

Geo Troy (500) 150 ins.

A Miller (200) no ins.

R Newman & Co (22,000) 14,000 ins.

L Y Williams (800) no ins.

N T Caton (500) no ins.

D Winters (1,200) no ins.

Otto Arnold (600) no ins.

J Starling (700) no ins.

R B Hooper (250) no ins.

John Kirk (2,000) no ins

Geo Beardslee (450) no ins

T J Allen (1,500) 500 ins.

Dr Whitney (150) no ins

C F Eckhardt (500) no ins.

Masonic Lodge (4,000) 2,000 ins.

E H Stanton (1,000) no ins.

C E Richards (450) no ins.

Joe Wormald (1,400) 700 ins.

H N Martin (150) no ins.

Cooper & Sanderson (400) 250 ins.

J Roberts (1,500) no ins.

J W Reed (500) no ins.

R O Porak (45,000) 2,400 ins.

Dr Buchanan (50) no ins.

Mrs M Heard (10,000) 1,500 ins.

W F Thompson (2,000) no ins.

J Barber (1,200) no ins.

J Sandygreen (200) no ins.

Wm Buckley (250) 200 ins.

A McIntosh (1,500) no ins.

Tom Smith (500) no ins.

Dr Putnam (6,000) 3,200 ins.

J F Hall (9,000) 4,000 ins.

J Sawyer (12,000) no ins.

Paul Herold (650) no ins.

A W Lowe (100) no ins.

L F Williams (1,000) no ins.

Palmer & Rey (800) 500 ins.

Sprague Mail (900) 500 ins.

Jim Lee (500) no ins.

Tom Dewant (2,000) no ins.

J M Gunning (100) no ins.

Jackson Brock (100) no ins.

A McLellan (300) no ins.

P Clinton (1,000) no ins.

Mrs Ebell (250) no ins.

S W Sensen (300) no ins.

McGill & Bernard (150) no ins.

ďWhitechapelĒ (3,000) no ins.

John Fogarty (2,000) no ins.

Gus Mancke (400) no ins.

J W Bryant (1,600) no ins.

Odd Fellows (1,800) 950 ins.

AOUW (350) 295 ins.

K of P (1,300) 700 ins.

E M Kinnear (25,000) 6,600 ins.

Miss Minser (1,200) 700 ins.

A VanAllen (400) no ins.

R Morrison (1,500) no ins.

Methodist Church (2,000) 1,000 ins.

B B White (1,500) no ins.

Jesse Moore & So (1,000) no ins.

W P Murray (800) no ins.

Rathbone Sisters (150) no ins.

W D Sorenson (2,000) 500 ins.

Mrs Rasch (1,200) 500 ins.

N P Railroad (750,000) unknown ins.



The insurance policies on property within the fire limits were held by the following local insurance writers:

Cooper & Sanderson                            $50,000

A W Holland & Son                               32,000

George S Brooke                                       5,000

W B Lottman                                             4,600

J W Merritt                                                2,800

R K McComb                                            1,000

L F Williams                                                 500  


Sprague Fires, Sprague, Washington submitted to the WAGenWeb

January, 2006 by Marge Womach

      USGENWEB NOTICE: In keeping with our policy of providing
          free information on the Internet, data may be used by
          non-commercial entities, as long as this message
          remains on all copied material. These electronic
          pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit
          or for presentation by other persons or organizations.
           Persons or organizations desiring to use this material
          for purposes other than stated above must obtain the
          written consent of the file contributor.
          This file was contributed for use in the USGenWeb.         

© Copyright  2006  WAGenWeb