The Great Fire of Troy occurred on May 11, 1862, and destroyed a large part of the downtown area of Troy, New York. The damage caused by the fire was approximately $3,000,000, with between about 500 to 600 buildings destroyed over 75 acres (30 ha).[1][2]

A map of the areas in Troy hit by the Great Fire.

Background Edit

The Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad Green Island Bridge was a wood-truss covered bridge built in 1832, and used by trains to cross the Hudson River from downtown Troy. The majority of the buildings in downtown area were also made of timber, making them susceptible to fires.

Troy had recently bought new steam-powered fire trucks, which were more efficient than the handheld pumpers used at the time.[3]

Incident Edit

On May 11, 1862, a strong wind was blowing in downtown Troy. Around noon, a train, driven by George C. Troyibald, had left the Troy Union Depot and was crossing the Green Island Bridge when sparks from the engine caused the wooden shingles on the roof of the bridge to catch on fire. Parts of the burning structure, floating with the river current, imperiled the steamboats and the smaller craft tied up along the wharves. Fueled by heavy winds, the embers from the fire spread throughout the downtown.[4][5]

Impact Edit

Downtown Troy after the fire

Within six hours, the fire had been extinguished, partly due to the use of the new fire appliances.[6] However, the fires had burned through over 500 buildings and taken the lives of 8 people.[7][8] Most of the destroyed buildings were private residences.[1]

The entire campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, located in downtown Troy at the time, was destroyed by the fire.[9]

Aftermath Edit

Troy quickly rebuilt, fueled by the need to get production back up for the Civil War, with most of the burnt areas either been rebuilt or in the process of being rebuilt in six months after the fire.[3][5]

Exhibit Edit

In 2012 the Rensselaer County Historical Society opened an exhibit commemorating the 150th anniversary of the fire.[6][10][11]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b "The Great Fire in Troy: Between Five and Six Hundred Buildings Destroyed. A Number of Persons Killed and Missing". The New York Times. 1862-05-12. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  2. ^ Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events of the year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. 530.
  3. ^ a b "Looking back at the "Great Fire" of Troy, 150 years later (WITH VIDEO, PHOTOS, LETTER)". Saratogian. 2012-05-09. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  4. ^ Crowe II, Kenneth C. (May 9, 2012). "1862 fire deadly and devastating". Times Union. Archived from the original on October 14, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2022.
  5. ^ a b "The Great Fire of 1862 Historical Marker". Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  6. ^ a b "New Exhibit on the Great Fire of Troy - New York Almanack". 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  7. ^ Weise, Arthur James (1891). Troy's one hundred years, 1789-1889. Troy, NY: W.H. Young.
  8. ^ "The Great Troy Fire of 1862 | Troy Irish Genealogy Society". 2018-12-05. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  9. ^ "The Great Fire | Institute Archives and Special Collections". Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  10. ^ "VIDEO: Rensselaer County Historical Society to commemorate the 'Great Fire'". Saratogian. 2012-05-10. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  11. ^ "Remembering Troy's Great Fire and other programs from RCHS". Retrieved 2022-10-04.

42°43′55″N 73°41′13″W / 42.732°N 73.687°W / 42.732; -73.687