A STORY OF THE CHICAGO FIRE

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October 8, Retrieved November 27, Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved February 24, Retrieved January 22, Flames even raced right across the Chicago River, feeding on flammable waste in the water. National Geographic Society. Retrieved February 19, The Greenock Telegraph. October 17, Winter American Quarterly.

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The Johns Hopkins University Press. Chicago Public Library. Retrieved September 26, Archived from the original on May 4, Retrieved December 14, July 19, WBEZ Blogs. Retrieved April 4, The author. Retrieved April 4, — via Google Books. Fire Protection Service. National Underwriter Company 82 : Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. O'Leary's Cow. By Bales, Richard F. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. American Anti-Catholicism and its Literature. Archived from the original on October 21, March Archived from the original on March 27, The Guardian. Retrieved September 25, Papist Devils: Catholics in British America, Catholic University of America Press.

American Catholicism. University of Chicago Press. New York: Rutledge Hill Press. Chicago Tribune.


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Archived from the original on February 23, Archived from the original on May 5, Retrieved September 30, Mental Floss. Or Louis M. Hyde Park Media. Archived from the original on November 24, Mustard with A Bic? American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Archived from the original PDF on March 25, Meteorite Magazine.

Retrieved November 10, July 27, Engineering Tool Box. Retrieved November 13, Environmental Health Fact Sheet. Illinois Department of Public Health. November Meteorite Quarterly. New York: Macmillan. December 6, Washington Post. Retrieved February 23, October 10, The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 9, March 29, Gawker Media. The cow also appears to be blameless, and several reporters came forward decades after the fire to admit that the story of the cow kicking the lantern was a fabrication, or at least came from unreliable sources.

Reporter Michael Ahern, who was working for the Chicago Republican at the time of the fire, admitted in a column in the Chicago Tribune that he and two colleagues made the cow story up to add some color to their copy. The most significant thing Bales found in his research was reason to suspect that the fire was started by "Peg Leg" Sullivan, the man who first noticed it.

First, the buildings were arranged in such a way that, from where he stood to smoke his pipe, Sullivan would not have been able to see the barn because another home would have blocked his view. Given his condition, the distances involved, and the speed with which the fire spread, Bales argues, Sullivan could not have done what he claimed to without being injured by the fire.

Bales thinks that was part of an alibi. Claiming to smoke his pipe where he did put him outside and close enough to the barn that he could claim to have seen the fire, but out of view of his neighbors, the McLaughlins, who were having a party that night and would have been able to see him if he was standing in front of his own house. Bales argues that Sullivan was in or around the barn that night—his mother kept one of her cows there and he may have gone to feed it—and, by accident with a careless flick of a match or a stray ember from his pipe or by bumping a lantern, started the fire. In , convinced by Bales' argument and evidence, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance exonerating Mrs.

O'Leary and her cow. No one knows the true reason the fire started, unfortunately.


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Thanks for hanging out with us today in Wonderopolis! I love the scientific facts that were given! Another unsolved mystery? Although the Chicago Board of Police and Fire Commissioners determined the fire began at the O'Learys, they were unable to pinpoint the cause.

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We may never know exactly what happened the night the fire started. We're glad you stopped by Wonderopolis today! Thanks for stopping by Wonderopolis and leaving a comment, Jabin B! During the s, timber wood was a common building material in the US. Chicago wasn't always in a drought, so perhaps a fire of that magnitude didn't seem like a catastrophe that would likely occur. It is unfortunate, Connor M! Thanks for sharing your question with us, Simon C!

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We did a little digging and found that the fire burned an area 4 miles long and 1 mile wide! That's a lot of scorched land! Thanks for hanging out with us in Wonderopolis, Victoria! It's possible for a massive fire to break out, but rather unlikely. It's best not to worry a lot about something like this happening, but instead to be prepared in case of an emergency.

Hey, Wonder Friends! Before you submit your comment, please remember:. Comments are subject to approval and may not be published if they are not appropriate for the Wonder discussion. Drag a word to its definition. You have answered 0 of 3 questions correctly and your score is:. Want to add a little wonder to your website? Help spread the wonder of families learning together. We sent you SMS, for complete subscription please reply. Follow Twitter Instagram Facebook. What started the Great Chicago Fire? Did Mrs. O'Leary really have a cow? How much damage did the Great Chicago Fire cause?

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Did Mrs. O'Leary's Cow Start the Great Chicago Fire?

Try It Out Can you imagine such a devastating fire occurring in today's modern world? Explore the following activities with a friend or family member to learn more: Poor Mrs. O'Leary and her cow! Can you imagine what it must have been like for her and her family in the wake of such a devastating fire? How do you think she felt? If you had been in her shoes, how would you have defended yourself?

How would you have felt after the reporter who made up the story finally admitted it was a lie? What would you have said to him? Could the Great Chicago Fire happen again today in Chicago? Or New York? Or Los Angeles? What do you think? What kinds of things could trigger or start a massive fire in a city? If a fire were to break out in a major city, what ways do we have today of fighting such a fire?