When was the last time you took a walk around our state Capitol?  There is a tour you can take ( once the COVID-19 pandemic settles down and it resumes again ) and for many of us, we haven't had a chance to experience the history of this amazing site. Taking a look at just why December 28th is a key date - Ninety years ago - 1930 -  A Sunday morning fire ravaged and destroyed the state Capitol. According to The Bismarck Tribune - The call came in about 8 a.m. on a Sunday. Back then, the alarm didn't ring at the fire hall, but at the taxi company, where an employee would then push a button activating the siren to summon the volunteers. At first the taxi company employee didn't believe the alarm, and it took three tries to get a response.

A crowd of people came out to watch ( on a 16-degrees-below-zero temperature morning ) - Sadly there was nothing the fire department could do - overwhelmed by the flames. The cause of the fire to this day is still unknown - and arson is suspected.

By 9 a.m., the scene was an inferno, and salvagers were ordered out of the building.

The cornerstone of the state Capitol had been laid in 1883 and it had been visited by such famous names as Ulysses S. Grant and Sitting Bull. President Theodore Roosevelt had given a speech from its south portico. 

The most incredible part of this story is the attempts of several witnesses to retrieve pictures off the walls, and an incredible rescue of the original copy of the state constitution -  Secretary of State Robert Byrne and his deputy, Charles Liessman, broke a window and made their way into the burning building to bring it to safety.

For more on this fascinating look back - 90 years ago - click here.

 

North Dakota Urban Legends