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Fort Sheridan: The Great Chicago Fire


Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois


Coles County



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The Story of the Great Chicago Fire

On a cool October evening in 1871 a tragedy of epic proportions was about to transpire. The setting was Chicago, Illinois, either in or near the barn of a woman named Mrs. O'Leary. A cow on the O'Leary farm is often dubbed as the initial cause of the Great Chicago Fire that occurred at this time. This fire may have started off like any other, and it may have ended up like any other if not for the many technological and human errors that occurred within the city's alarm system that night. What was to follow was a blaze that destroyed a massive part of the city and resulted in a work atmosphere that was completely different from the days prior. The Chicago Fire set in motion a series of events that would eventually lead to the creation of Fort Sheridan, just outside Chicago.

Chicago Historical Society, Northwestern University. “The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory.” October 8, 1996. http://www.chicagohs.org/fire/conflag (no longer active) (11 February 2006)



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