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Thursday, March 19, 1931


Boom Portion of Town is Left West of the Missouri Pacific Railroad

Only Few Buildings in Original River Town Remain to Mark the business Section Where Trade
has been Prosperous Since Work on the Osage Dam Started 18 Months Ago

Two men were burned to death, and nearly all of the original town of Bagnell was destroyed by fire between 2:00 o'clock and 4 o'clock Monday morning. The business remaining includes the C.E. Caldwell poultry house which was formerly operated by A.B. Cole & Son, the Boots Garage, Dee Gee Store, Brown Café, Jack's Place, the A.M. Pope hardware and lumber company, hardware store and lumber yard, and a second hand store operated near the river by J.C. Calkin.

The fire started in what was known as the old Harvey and Franklin building, where R.S. Harvey, and J.S. Franklin bought ties and sold general line of merchandise in 1885. The building was afterwards used by J.C. Calkin and was remodeled when the work started on the Osage Dam.

The charred remains of two men were found after the flames had died down. Since it was known that Harry Brown of Ravenden Springs, Ark. had a room in the building burned, where one of the bodies was picked up from the debris, it was thought he was one of the unfortunate men. The other body could not be identified. Sunday evening a young man registered and asked for a 50 cent bed, and had retired without becoming acquainted with anyone so far as could be ascertained. As the register was burned, the name was lost.

Edgar Wilson of the White Hotel had to break open 27 doors of guest rooms and was waking the guests, by a little dog that barked and helped him to arouse the sleepers hurriedly. Mr. Wilson regretted to learn afterwards that the little animal, in its effort to pull bed clothing and in its urgent endeavor to rescue the guests, remained in the building too long and was unable to escape.


The total loss with very little insurance is estimated at from $60,000 to $100,000. Included in the loss are: Reed and Berry general store, a portion of the goods saved with loss of Frigidaire plant and heavy goods and fixtures that could not be removed hurriedly; J.C. Calkin, two rooming houses; The White Hall pool hall and rooming house operated by C. M. Crane, and Edgar Wilson of Eldon; The Western Electric Light and Power Company, electrical goods store; Bert McDaniels, confectionery and rooming house; The White Way Café; Fritz Honer Restaurant and rooming house; Ed Bowlin barber shop, Halls Jewelry Store; James Foster residence; W.A. Edwards Post Office and residence; Dr. H.F. Goran, dental parlor; Sim Gover residence; the Old Bagnell Hotel, used as a residence by C.L. Dietrich; the building formerly used as a bank of Bagnell and just recently purchased by Dr. C.H. Parish as an office and residence; the George Calkin store building with rooming house above; the telephone office; the Oriental Hotel owned by F. DeLozier; the Bagnell Water System and the City Hall.


Many of the guests in the hotels and rooming houses lost practically all their clothes and belongings. The flame spread so rapidly, it was soon found impossible to make any headway with the small town fire fighting equipment and willing volunteers aided in removing stocks of goods from the building in the path of the fire which was rapidly sweepinb both sides of the street. On one side of the buildings were frames built close together.

Jess Fritz fractured a limb when he fell from the post office building while fighting to save the building.

Harry Rea and Oliver Blankenship were operating the Osage Ferry and saw the flames bursting from the old Calkin building. They reached the place in time to carry out some of the guests who were ill with the flu, to the office of the Western Light and Power Company, which was out of danger.

James Calkin had a room in the Calkin building and was awakened by the heat after the fire had caught in the bedding. He managed to escape from the building with barely enough to cover him, and one shoulder badly burned. He had a room next to one of the men who burned to death.

The Reed and Berry stock of goods was moved to Ulman, where Bob Reed formerly had a store for years before he moved to Bagnell after the work started on the Osage Dam.

Several business firms had money in safes as there was no bank at Bagnell and it was necessary to do their banking in Eldon.


The fire department of Eldon was called and it was found that the fire truck had been taken down and was undergoing repairs. A call was made for Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation Fire Department at the Osage Dam and officers and men responded to give all aid possible. Officers in charge of the fire fighting squad explained that owing to the fact that Tone & Webster had provided high pressure water service at the Dam their equipment did not need pumping equipment nad the trucks were not provided with engines so that water could be taken from the river or wells. This accounts for the error in the reports to the Associated Press that the Stone & Webster did not respond to the call for help.

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