Looking Back

Ruin follows ruin

This was the Main Street of Cortez in early 1900's. It shows the corner of Main and Elm Streets and the Dr. R Smith residence, later Sharp's Boarding House. Enlargephoto

This was the Main Street of Cortez in early 1900's. It shows the corner of Main and Elm Streets and the Dr. R Smith residence, later Sharp's Boarding House.

A Second Fire within the Week Devastates Our Growing Little City.

Unlucky Thirteen Buildings Destroyed -Loss of Personal Property Light - Fire Probably an Accident - Hard Work to Save Other Buildings.

Montezuma Journal -March 8, 1898

It seems that the fates are against Cortez and the Montezuma Valley. The ruins of the Cortez Roller Mill destroyed by fire February, 1898 located near Todd Lake that was owned by the Guillet Brothers has not ceased to smoldering when two blocks in the business portion of our little city were reduced to ashes by the destroying element.

No one knows how or when the fire started. It was first discovered by Mr. Thompson, the miller, who was occupying the front room in Hotel Blackmer, down stairs on the site next to Kelly's saloon. Mr. Thompson and Mr. Blackmer, the proprietor, had retired at exactly midnight, Saturday night.

Two hours later he was awakened and noticed smoke coming in his room near the ceiling. He must have thought the smoke came from the outside, as he shouted to Mr. Blackmer that the saloon was on fire. When Blackmer entered the dining room, in which he had to pass to gain the outside, dense volumes of smoke were coming from the kitchen. Rushing into the kitchen he told Mr. Blackmer to give the alarm as soon as his wife was out of the burning building. This he did as soon as Mrs. Blackmer was safe, by firing a Winchester.

In the meantime, Mr. Thompson was removing articles from the burning house, being soon joined in the work by Blackmer. They thought the fire was still coming from the saloon and rushed to the front door of that place to arouse Mr. Kelly, who had, however, awakened by the first sounds and hurried to the rear to protect his cellar, in which was stored the greater part of his stock. It was then discovered the flames were coming from the southwest corner of the hotel in the kitchen part. Others on the scene later said that the fire was burning from the ground, while still others say that the flames were bursting from the roof at the chimney. At any rate, the hotel was doomed when help arrived and the crowd turned its attention to saving the goods from other buildings in the path of the fire.

The Hotel Blackmer stood on the southwest corner of Market and Main Street across the street from the stone block facing to the north and arranged alongside of it on the west in the order named were the following buildings: Kelly's saloon building owned by the Donovan Estate; H. A. Harrison's building, in which his personal effects were stored; Mrs. Burghardt's Millinery store, building owned by John White; J. T. Owing's barber shop, building owned by the town company.

South of Hotel Blackmer and facing to the east were the following buildings: Blackmer's furniture and second-hand store; Morrison's grocery store, building owned by R.E. Scott; Springer's saloon, building owned by John White; Mrs. Brink's, building owned by Miss Inez Chase; the French building and John Hambay's barber shop. Besides these, two stables burned, one to the rear of the Harrison building and the other to the rear of Owing's barbershop. Nearly all the buildings were among the first erected in the town, and as labor and material were high ten years ago, the total of the original cost of the thirteen building must have been about $10,000.

W.O.W. Hall (Woodman of the World) was built around turn of the century and hosted events including the first fair day in 1905. It was located at 35 S. Chestnut. Enlargephoto

W.O.W. Hall (Woodman of the World) was built around turn of the century and hosted events including the first fair day in 1905. It was located at 35 S. Chestnut.

This pond was used as the reservoir for early Cortez in 1889 and was close to W.O.W. Hall. It was the main source of water for fires, etc. Enlargephoto

This pond was used as the reservoir for early Cortez in 1889 and was close to W.O.W. Hall. It was the main source of water for fires, etc.