Volunteering to help keep the story of the Great Hinckley Fire alive

September 24, 2018

Editor's Note

This is the third installment of a series on the volunteers at the Hinckley Fire Museum. Watch next week's issue for the next profile.


Karen Carlson is this week’s spotlighted volunteer. She grew up in the Sandstone area and knew very little about the Great Hinckley Fire of 1894. Her first real interest in the fire happened when she participated in the play "Voices From The Fire" in 1994. It was a memory play written by Helen Lange Hammes. The actors reenacted the story of engineers William Best and Edward Barry hooking their two trains together. They then loaded over 500 passengers from Hinckley onto their trains and backed up over the Kettle River Bridge in Sandstone and continued all the way to Duluth-Superior. 


After her retirement from teaching, she had more free time and decided to volunteer as a guide at the Hinckley Fire Museum. Karen was named the Fire Museum’s Volunteer of the Year this past week at their annual meeting. 


She thoroughly enjoys her job and feels honored to share the story of the fire with visitors who come to the museum. It is amazing to meet people from the local area as well as over the entire United States and many countries from around the world. 

“It is not only rewarding to tell the story of the fire but to also have the opportunity to hear the stories of the visitors to the museum. Some people know very little about the fire while others had family members who perished in the fire and others who survived the fire,” said Karen.


She continued by saying the people in Hinckley deserve much credit for their hard work in rebuilding the depot and getting the museum up and running for these many years. Through their efforts, the story of the Great Hinckley Fire will not be lost or forgotten and will be told from generation to generation. 


“I encourage everyone to take time to stop and visit the museum and learn more about our local history,” she said. 


There are always opportunities to volunteer at the museum, from people to welcome the visitors to mowing the lawn or housekeeping tasks. Stop in and find out how you can help to keep the museum open and continue to tell the story of the Great Hinckley Fire. 


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