1881 Michigan Fire Forever Changed the Thumb

Mike Hardy

Author of a fun loving and event blog covering topics of the Upper Thumb of Michigan , the wind energy capital of the Great Lakes. Offering great trove of information on Wind Energy, Cheeseburger in Caseville, Saginaw Bay, Sailing.

15 Responses

  1. Jerry says:

    How is this possible? They didn’t have global warming back then!

    • ThumbWind says:

      But it was human caused. Thanks for stopping by.

      • judy says:

        Human caused? I didn’t read that in the article. Did I miss it?

      • ThumbWind says:

        Here is another version from another source to make it clear.The Great Forest Fire of 1881 was largely confined to the Thumb area. Logging in this area reached its peak in 1872. By 1881 the splendid stands of pine and hardwoods had been cut down, however, the loggers left a wilderness of slashings, consisting of pine tops, branches, stumps, and trees rejected by loggers after they had been cut down. In many places the slashings were 12 to 15 feet high and covered large areas of land. The Fire of 1871 had also left large masses of dead and fallen timber. Finally, after most of the tall pines had been cut, the underbrush had become thicker and thicker.
        The summer of 1881 was excessively hot and dry. By September most of the streams had dried up. Even the swamps had been burned to a hard clay by the sun.

      • My Grandmother and Clara Barton were related and I grew up in the thumb, Sanilac county. So I tend to have an interest in this story.

      • ThumbWind says:

        Amazing…do you know if Clara Barton visited your Grandmother?

  2. Mary Chiotti Sting says:

    The woods I lived in most of my life was untouched. The fire stopped just a 1/4 mile south near M-25 between M-142 & Weale Rd, Bay Port.

  3. Jeremy says:

    The tree in my moms yard in brown city is the only survive from that fire.

  4. Pam Rieli says:

    You may be interested in reading our Great Lakes Great Fires Meteor site concerning the 1871 fires in the Thumb. We found the meteorite on the shores of Lake Huron near the family cottage north of Port Sanilac –

  5. Wayne Pritchard says:

    My grandfather who was born May 24, 1881 couldn’t remember the fire of course, but his parents had stories. Some people went down in their well to escape the flames but suffocated instead.Others fled to Lake Huron. My grandfather, on my fathers side, with his father and brother made a living for a number of years selling fire wood. They also used logs for the base for some of the roads. Part of the payment for the work on the roads was to be given 12 lots in Downing Cemetery. This all took place in the Deckerville area.

  6. oldpoet56 says:

    This is a great article it is also a piece of history that I had not head before so I am going to reblog this article for you.

  1. January 11, 2018

    […] Great Michigan Thumb Fires of 1881 […]

  2. September 29, 2018

    […] The Thumb Fire of 1881 […]

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