The Fire That Devastated Metz, Michigan, 1908
One of Michigan's most tragic stories happened in the town of Metz, somewhat west of Millersburg and 15 miles south of Rogers City.
On the morning of October 15, 1908, a fire swept 35 miles all the way to Lake Huron; in doing so, it wiped out the town of Metz killing 37 people and leaving 700 residents homeless.
A tad south of Metz was the Detroit & Mackinac Railroad, whose administrators sent a special train to Metz in order to save some townspeople. 40 residents, mostly made up of mothers with their children, got on board with some possessions. By the time the train was ready to leave, the town was engulfed in flames and the train tracks led right through an intense blaze...so intense, it melted & warped the rails which derailed the train. Some of the passengers jumped off the rail car and were able to escape, but about a dozen people were burned to death in the gondola....9 of them children, as their ash & bone remains revealed.
The fire also affected miles & miles of Michigan countryside but has always been referred to as "The Metz Fire" due to all the devastation and loss of life.
Today, Metz is a far cry from the booming town it once was. Many current residents are descendants of villagers who were able to rebuild and start over in Metz.
To this day, nobody knows what started the fire. The careless throwing of a lit match? Lightning? Farmer's field fire that got out of control? If some individual was responsible, he or she never came forward, leaving the cause a mystery.
The site is now a registered Michigan Historical Site with it's own marker at the Metz Fire Trailside Historical Park, located at the site of the railroad tracks where the train derailed and passengers perished.
To read much more on the Metz Fire, CLICK HERE.
Take a look at some historic photos below...