HOME - Front Page
Heritage \ Writings \ Disasters

West Bay City Fire Destroys Two Blocks (1890)
Lumbermill, Salt Block and Brewery Lost.
  • Transcribed November 2006.
  • Bay City Tribune - Friday, November 13, 1890



    West Bay City was visited by one of the most destructive fires in recent years last night. It swept over two blocks of territory, destroying the mill and salt block of Carpenter & Co., the West Bay City brewery and many smaller sheds and buildings. The mill and salt block were a total loss. They were value at $35,000. The brewery was gutted and will be almost a complete loss. It is valued at $50,000. The loss on ice houses, barns and outlying buildings will bring the total loss from the fire up to about $100,000. The brewery was partially insured but there was not a cent of insurance on either the mill or salt block.

    The fire originated near the engine room of the mill, which is located on Washington street, at the foot of Eighth. At exactly 12 oclock an alarm was turned in from a box adjoining the plant. Before the first company reached the scene the flames had spread to the salt block on the east, the lumber piles on the south and the brewery on the northeast. Five minutes later a general alarm was turn in and Bay City was asked for help. The entire series of buildings covering the two blocks were then one mass of flames.

    The department realized the hopelessness of saving the mill or salt block and directed their attention to the brewery and the lumber piles on the east dock. In the former they proved without avail, but in the latter met with better success and the fire was prevented from reaching the docks on which were pile over 1,000,000 feet of lumber.

    The fire was one of the fiercest the city has ever experienced and it was with the greatest difficulty that the firemen fought it. The territory covered was so cut up by slips that they were unable to reach it with streams. The strong west wind which was rolling a seething mass of flames into the air, began to veer around to the north when the conflagration was at its height. This endangered the property of Carpenter & Co. to the south of the mill, the large Kolb Bros. brewery, and all the lumber on the docks. Before the firemen had move from their positions, however, it switched around again and blew from the old-time direction with somewhat increased force.

    At this hour, 2:30 a. m., the fire is still burning fiercely and casts a vivid reflection over the western sky. The mill has burned to the groundand is now a mass of smoking embers, but the flames are issuing from the stone brewery, on the inside of which they have secured a firm footing. The lumber does not appear endangered, although it will be several hours before the fire shall have been completely extinguished.


    Carpenter & Co.s mill was built in 1872 and is one of the best equipped on the river. It has made large cuts every season, this year alone being an exception. In the early spring it was fitted out with considerable new machinery and was entirely over hauled. It has run only about three months this summer and all the lumber it had cut is pile on the docks to the east. There has been no fire around the building for several weeks, the mill having shut down July 1. The mill has both circular and gang saws. It is equipped with six engines and has its own electric light plant. Its own fire facilities which consisted of 1,900 feet of new hose was stored near where the fire originated and was destroyed before the alarm was turned in. The salt block had a capacity of 200 barrels a day. Carpenter and Co.s loss will be about $35,000 with no insurance.

    The West Bay City brewery was a handsome large stone and brick structure northeast of the mill. At its rear was a two-story frame addition, which was used as a store house and part of the works. This was burning when the department arrived and the fire easily worked its way within the stone part from whence the firemen could with difficulty reach it. The brewery was built about 16 years ago and was equipped with the most modern machinery. The loss on building and contents will be about $35,000 partially covered by insurance.

    The ice houses to the east of the brewery belonged to that institution and were totally destroyed. They were formerly the property of Zagelmeyer & Co., and were valued at about $1,000.


    The fire was evidently of incendiary origin. There has been no fire around the mill for over three months and the owners say it could have originated in no other way.


    Bay City responded to the call for aid with No. 1 hose company and truck. They took up a stand at the brewery and did good work although they arrived too late to save the contents of the big building.


    A phenomenon connected with the conflagration was a brilliant streak of fire which extended from the blazing mass straight up into the heavens. It was not more than a foot in width and was visible during the progress of the fire. The probably explanation of the strange sight is that it was the reflection of the fire on the snow flakes which filled the air.


    Later 3 a. m. The immense brick walls of the brewery have just fallen and all that is left of the structure is a mass of ruins. Sever firemen narrowly escaped being buried in the debris.

    Notes & Related Pages
  • None at this time.
    Related Pages:
    Kolb Brewery
  • People Referenced
    Subjects Referenced
    Bay City
    Carpenter & Co.
    Eighth st.
    Ice houses
    Kolb Bros. brewery
    Lumber mill
    Lumber piles
    No. 1 hose & truck
    Salt block
    Washington st.
    West Bay City brewery
    Zagelmeyer & Co.
    Also on This Page.

    Schooner Kate Darley arrived light from North Tonawanda.

    Steamer Sanilac cleared with 250,000 feet of lumber from H. McCormick to Carroll & Co., Erie, Pa.

    Steamer W.O. Thew cleared with 225 thousdand feet of lumber from George D. Jackson to Ellenberger Lumber Co., Cleveland.

    The report at the custom office so far this month is as follows: Arived two steamers of 467 tons; seven schooners of 1,919 tons; six entries of merchandise; 1,667,877 feet of lumber valued at $19,408.26; 1,400 tons of sand valued at $50. Cleared: Two steamers of 442 tons; seven schooners of 2,121 tons; 220,000 feet of lumber.
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.