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As It Was: Fire Destroys Lakeview, Ore., Business District in 1900

On May 22, 1900, a fire roared through Lakeview, Oregon’s mostly wood-frame buildings, the glow of the blaze said to be visible 75 miles to the west in Klamath Falls. Historian Jeff LaLande has written that more than 50 business establishments, two fraternal lodges, and the town hall went up in flames.

Nine days later, the Klamath Republican newspaper praised the pluck of the townspeople. It wrote, “The undiscouraged citizens of Lakeview will immediately set to work to re-build [sic] their town, and it will rise from its ashes better than ever before.”

Lakeview, population 761 in 1900, rebuilt mostly in brick.

The town’s benefactor, Dr. Bernard Daly, financed and led most of the city’s reconstruction. Daly was the largest stockholder in the Bank of Lakeview, and owned the largest ranch in South Central Oregon, and at least 14 buildings in downtown Lakeview. Daly founded a trust fund in 1922 that continues today to send Lakeview high school graduates to college.

When Daly died 20 years after the fire, 600 citizens attended his funeral. In 2008, the U.S. Congress passed a bill to rename the Lakeview post office in Daly’s honor.

Sources: "120 Years Ago Lakeview to Rebuild [Klamath Republican,31 May 1900]." The Midge Cultural Newsletter for the Klamath Basin, 28 May 2020; LaLande, Jeff. "Lakeview." The Oregon Encyclopedia: A Project of the Oregon Historical Society, Portland State University and the Oregon Historical Society, May 2019, oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/lakeview/#.Xs_3-DpKiUk. Accessed 28 May 2020; "Bernard Daly." Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia, The Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Oct. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard Daly. Accessed 28 May 2020; “Lakeview, Ore.” Ibid, 9 April 2019; “Lakeview, Oregon Facts for Kids.” Kiddle Encyclopedia, 22 May 2020, https://kids.kiddle.co/Lakeview,_Oregon#History. Accessed 28 May 2020.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.