Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

November 2, 2013

NIAGARA DISCOVERIES: The Great Fire of 1854

The Great Fire of 1854 left Lockport canalside in ashes

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — That evening, when it became evident that the fire was going to be widespread, a telegram was sent to Buffalo requesting immediate assistance. Three companies of Buffalo firemen, and several who were visiting from Erie, Pa., arrived by train with much needed manpower and equipment. After several more hours the fire was finally out. 

When dawn came the next morning it revealed a quarter-mile stretch along Canal Street had been destroyed. Despite all the destruction, no one was killed in the fire, but property losses amounted to $200,000 (about $5.5 million today).

The fire of 1854 created an opportunity for Lockport to rebuild its canalside area. Three new churches were built to replace those damaged or destroyed by the fire. New stone and brick buildings that would stand for more than a century were erected in place of the former wooden structures. 

But probably the most important event to come out of the fire was that inventor Birdsill Holly came to Lockport and in 1859 invented the fire hydrant. Lockport would have other fires over the years, but thanks to Holly’s invention, none as devastating as The Great Fire of 1854.

Ann Marie Linnabery is the assistant director of the History Center of Niagara.

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