THE WAY IT WAS: 1916 Cameron House Fire

Spectators watch as La Crosse firefighters, perched atop a snow-covered passenger platform canopy, battle a blaze at the old Milwaukee Railroad passenger depot and Cameron House hotel on Dec. 24, 1916. This fire 100 years ago gutted the brick-veneered structure, and it was razed shortly afterward. No lives were lost in the fire, as all the hotel occupants escaped the flames and smoke, some of them dressed only in their nightclothes. 

Spectators watch as La Crosse firefighters, perched atop a snow-covered passenger platform canopy, battle a blaze at the old Milwaukee Railroad passenger depot and Cameron House hotel on Dec. 24, 1916.

This fire 100 years ago gutted the brick-veneered structure, and it was razed shortly afterward. No lives were lost in the fire, as all the hotel occupants escaped the flames and smoke, some of them dressed only in their nightclothes. Completed in 1880 on the southwest corner of Second and Vine streets, this combination depot-hotel at one time had 13 passenger trains arriving and departing daily.

During its early days the Cameron House’s dining room gave La Crosse the reputation as “the town where you get that splendid meal,” and its fame was as well known in Montreal or Quebec as in St. Paul or Kansas City, according to Tribune files. The former site of this one-time landmark is now occupied by a parking lot.

Anyone with more information about this photo or wishing to donate photos of the Coulee Region may contact the La Crosse Public Library Archives at 608-789-7136.

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Emily Pyrek covers human interest stories, local events and anything involving dogs for the La Crosse Tribune. She is always interested in story ideas and can be contacted at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

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