Fire prevention

Monticello’s Great Fire of 1909

By TED WADDELL
Posted 9/29/21

MONTICELLO, NY — On Tuesday, August 10, 1909, at about 8:30 in the evening, the Village of Monticello was devasted by a fast-moving fire that destroyed most of the businesses, reducing them to …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in
Fire prevention

Monticello’s Great Fire of 1909

Posted

MONTICELLO, NY — On Tuesday, August 10, 1909, at about 8:30 in the evening, the Village of Monticello was devasted by a fast-moving fire that destroyed most of the businesses, reducing them to piles of smoldering ash and ruins.

According to published reports of the time, it was thought that the fire started from a “large burned out smokestack at the Murray Power Plant” just as the mail was arriving, and the streets, stores and hotel porches were teeming with local residents and throngs of summer visitors.

A history of the Monticello Fire Department (Station 22, Sullivan County) recalls the catastrophe. “By the time the firemen responded and the hoses were laid, the power plant was roaring in flames, the fire spread quickly to the huge Palatine Casino, which was quickly consumed. A strong wind spread the fire quickly from building to building in less than an hour; both sides of the street were engulfed.”

By the time the flames were finally extinguished, 40 buildings were lost, along with an estimated $1 million (around $300 million in 2021 dollars) in property, but fortunately, no lives were lost in the blaze that was witnessed by hundreds of spectators.

In 1874, a major fire in the village destroyed numerous structures, including the Exchange Hotel, Hindley’s Saloon, Kent’s Barber Shop, Billing’s Flour and Feed Store, Curley’s Hotel, and even the office of the Republican Watchman newspaper.

This fire served as the genesis of the Monticello Fire Department, which in 1875 was organized into two companies: Monticello Engine Company #1 and Mountain Hose Company #1.

The Great Fire of 1909 was documented through hundreds of period postcards, many of which are preserved for future generations by the Sullivan County Historical Society in Hurleyville.

As an interesting footnote in the history of the fire, the fireproof vault of the National Union Bank proved impregnable to the flames, but it reportedly took several days for mechanics to “crack” the mighty steel safe.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here