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As It Was: Fire Destroys Grange Co-op in Central Point, Ore.

Since 1947, the Grange Co-op grain elevator had been a beacon for miles around Central Point, Ore, but on the night of Oct. 12, 1961, it became a terrifying pillar of flame.

Fifty firefighters from Medford and Central Point fought the blaze. Water and the flames destroyed more than 1,500 tons of grain. 

Firemen detoured State Hwy 99 traffic around the area so hoses could be strung across the road to reach the fire.  There was a momentary scare when water pressure suddenly dropped, but firemen connected to Medford water at an Elk Lumber Company hydrant.

A lot happened behind the scenes.  The Southern Pacific dragged freight cars out of danger, the power company shut off electricity, Don Faber opened his grocery store to the firemen’s auxiliary, and Melba’s Café opened at 3 a.m. to provide breakfast for the exhausted men.

Paperboy Don Mundlin scored a scoop with his early morning deliveries by writing “Grange Coop Burning” across his papers, which had gone to press before the fire. 

By summer, the Grange had a new grain elevator that continues today to dominate the Central Point skyline.

Sources: "Grange Coop Elevator Burns at Central Point." The Times 20 Oct. 1961 [Rogue River Oregon] : 1. Print; Grange Co-op Grain Elevator History. Grange Co-op, 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.  https://www.grangecoop.com/grange-co-op-grain-elevator-history/

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.