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The State Industrial School – click to enlarge - Click to enlarge

100 Years Ago

Firefighting was harder in the days before modern firetrucks and pressurized water lines. Early pump trucks were designed to use any source available, such as a ditch or a pond, and malfunctions were fairly frequent.

The Colorado Transcript and Jefferson County Republican–both published on July 10, 1924–described a disastrous fire at the Industrial School. The residents and employees were having dinner when someone spotted smoke coming out of the main administration building. Two employees–the bookkeeper and the baker–ran into the building to investigate but were overcome by smoke and had to be dragged out.

The fire originated in a locked storage room on the 3rd floor and that entire floor was soon in flames. Several of the school’s vocational classrooms were located in that building The residents–inmates and employees both–were able to save equipment from the carpenter shop, shoe shop, band room, and blacksmithing shop, but the laundry room and tailor shop were total losses.

The building that burned was the oldest one on campus, built in 1881. The Superintendent thought that a lightning storm that happened just before the fire might have shorted out some of the old wiring.

Golden Firefighters pulling a hose cart during an Inspection Day parade – Golden History Museum collection

Golden’s volunteer fire department responded to the School’s call for help, but the closest hydrant was located at 24th and Ford Streets–the edge of the City limits at that time–and the water pressure was insufficient to reach the school. They brought the hose cart onto campus and put a hose into an irrigation ditch, pumping water from there. By the time they got that working, the Denver Fire Department had arrived and both groups worked to extinguish the remains of the building. One of Golden’s fire fighters suffered a broken leg in the process of maneuvering a hose onto the second floor.

Thanks to the Golden History Museum for funding the online collection of historic newspapers, and thanks to the Golden Transcript for documenting our history since 1866!