Peshtigo Fire Museum

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Coordinates: 45°03′21″N 87°45′12″W / 45.055867°N 87.753372°W / 45.055867; -87.753372

Back interior
Front interior

On October 8, 1871, a firestorm roared through Peshtigo and surrounding areas, killing over 2,000 people and destroying the entire city and its livelihood. The Peshtigo Fire Museum preserves this heritage through storytelling, exhibits of artifacts from the fire, displays of the lifestyle at the time of the disaster, and a cemetery to memorialize those who died.[1][2] The museum is located adjacent to the Peshtigo Fire Cemetery, where the charred remains of over 350 people were buried in a mass grave.[3] The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The memorial at the cemetery was the first official state historical marker authorized by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.[4]


[1] A featured item in the museum's collection is the Church tabernacle that local Roman Catholic priest Father Peter Pernin saved by submerging in the Peshtigo River.[2][5] The tabernacle survived the fire unblemished. Pernin published a book called "The Great Peshtigo Fire: An Eyewitness Account", which was republished by the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1971. The book documents Pernin's account of the tabernacle submersion in the river, rescue, and horrific accounts of discoveries during and after the fire. Other Peshtigo fire items include a small burned Bible and a melted glass dish discovered by a construction worker in 1995.[6] The Bible is open to Psalms 106 and 107.[7] Several letters with first person accounts of the fire and cleanup are on display. One letter recently added to the collection describes burying nine to ten hundred (900 to 1000) dead. There are several maps of Peshtigo, one before the fire and another showing the extent of the fire. A mural depicts before, during, and after the fire.

Other items that the museum features include a collection of antique items showing the history of the area. All items in the museum were donated.[6]


The museum is located on the site where St Mary's Catholic Church stood before the fire.[2] Pictures showing the former Peshtigo Congregational Church building being moved across the Peshtigo River after a rebuilt St. Mary's was destroyed by fire in 1927.[2] The museum acquired the property in 1963 when St. Mary's built a new structure at a different location.[2] The museum is open daily from May until October.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "home - Peshtigo Fire Museum". Peshtigo Fire Museum. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Non-official website relating to the Peshtigo Fire Museum, Retrieved August 28, 2007
  3. ^ registered historic marker (Image:PeshtigoFireCemetery.jpg), dated 1951, accessed August 26, 2007
  4. ^ Peshtigo, Wisconsin 2004-05 Directory, published by the Peshtigo Chamber of Commerce, Retrieved August 29, 2007
  5. ^ "The Great Peshtigo Fire: An Eyewitness Account", Reverend Peter Pernin, the Wisconsin Magazine of History, 1971, Retrieved August 28, 2007
  6. ^ a b Peshtigo Fire Museum at, Retrieved August 28, 2007
  7. ^ "The Peshtigo Fire Museum, unlike anything we've seen",, Retrieved August 28, 2007

External links[edit]