January 15, 1908: Duluth firefighter killed on way to fight fire 

On this day in Duluth in 1908, 28-year-old firefighter Arthur Rose was killed on his way to fight a fire at 20th Avenue West. The alarm sounded at 1 a.m., and Rose, climbed in the back of a horse-drawn hose wagon that took off toward the blaze, closely followed by a horse-drawn steam pump fire engine. Rose lost his grip as the wagon negotiated a turn at Eighth Avenue West and Superior Street and was thrown from the wagon to the street, where the engine wagon rolled over him and “he was badly crushed about the head and body,” According to the Duluth News Tribune’s account. By the time J. W. Walsh, who was also in the hose wagon, crawled over hoses to alert the driver both vehicles had travelled another three blocks. By the time he was found by another department wagon on its way to the fire, Rose had died. Rose was a pipeman, the man who handled the business end of the hose, and he’d only been on the job for just over a month and left behind a wife and child. An escort of 30 firefighters accompanied his casket all the way to Forest Hill Cemetery, joined by hundreds of Rose’s fellow Knights of Pytheas, a fraternal order centered on the ideals of loyalty, honor, and friendship. The paper described his funeral, which followed the order’s rites, as “beautiful and impressive.” Rose was a local hero before his death. His previous job was as lighthouse keeper to Duluth’s South Breakwater Light. During the infamous Mataafa storm of November, 1905, the high waves kept him trapped inside the light house for two days. During the storm, the newspaper recounted, “All communication was cut off to him until the sea subsided. He witnessed the disaster to the Mataafa at a distance of less than 100 feet.”

The 1894 Duluth Fire Department Headquarters, which was demolished and replaced in 1965. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

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