This year marks the 95th anniversary of the 1918 Forest Fire. The Moose Lake Area Historical Society is planning a three day commemoration of the historical event on October 11, 12 and 13.
A program committee has been working on details since the beginning of the year. The committee work has been spearheaded by Director Natalie Frohrip and Archaeologist Steven Blondo.
As one old-timer reminisced, "I heard these stories since I was a kid. Those alive then are now all gone. When it gets to October and a dry fall, I sit for awhile and think about the stories passed down to me by the folks and the neighbors. I sit there, remember, and still feel sad."
Friday evening, October 11, at the Fires of 1918 Museum a play will be presented written by Dan Reed. It will be focused on some part of the fire experience. Luminaries will be lit that evening and the names of those honored will be read. It is hoped that the students active in the Moose Lake High School history club will help out on this weekend.
Blondo is spearheading a collection of data to make a map of the fire-ravaged area and use that as a guide for a motored tour of significant sites. Buildings that survived the fire, areas that were safe havens for survivors, sites where there was loss of life, and cemeteries for victims will all be accented. The tour starts on Saturday, October 12 — 95 years ago the 1918 Fire occurred on a Saturday — at 10 a.m. by bus. A short rest and refreshments will occur midway through the morning tour at the Kalevala Cultural Center and will end at the Moose Lake Fire Monument cemetery and then lunch at the museum.
A series of interesting or unusual excerpts from fire stories has been worked on by Frohrip and Betty Lehet to be presented that afternoon at a 1:30 p.m. program. As an example, the late Allie Leppa Nikkila recollected, "Stopping to rest for a moment, I sat on what I thought was a soft log. I found out later that I was sitting on the burned body of Ralph Michaelson, one of my classmates in school. You can imagine my reaction to this!" Cathy Wurzer will be on hand to be guest speaker. Music from the era will be performed.
On Sunday, October 13, at 1 p.m. a prayer service will be held on the shores of Moose Lake with emphasis on fire victims, survivors, and the rebuilding of the town.
Details are still sketchy and ideas are welcome.