The Great Hinckley Fire monument.

Great Hinckley Fire Museum and Mass Grave

Field review by the editors.

Hinckley, Minnesota

Towns sometimes learn the hard way to be careful about their claims to fame. Take the north woods burg of Hinckley. Before Sept. 1, 1894, it was nicknamed "The Town Built of Wood." That's the day a forest fire flashed through town -- really, a firestorm, with "as much force as an atomic bomb," to quote a display at the town museum. Hinckley's afternoon inferno killed at least 418, and burned up five surrounding villages as it consumed over 400 square miles of kindling.

It became known as the Great Hinckley Fire. In the town museum, a diorama shows what Hinckley looked like before the fire, a town surrounded by white pine forests. The exhibit includes a wall-sized painting of flames converging on the water-filled gravel pit, where many survived. Some escaped via the railroad, but hundred were dead within hours. The coroner's official tally (418) is reproduced for your skimming pleasure. A photo of the town's "award winning" fire department was on display (though we argued later in the car whether it was the Fire Dept. of 1893 or 1895).

The Coroner's Tally - 418 Dead.
The Coroner's Tally - 418 Dead.

A small group of statues in town represents survivors in the gravel pit.

The Fire Monument and mass grave is on Fire Monument Road, very near the interstate. Mass graves of 248 people are in lumpy mounds just behind the marker, dedicated in 1900 to the pioneers of civilization in Minnesota.

Boston Corbett, killer of Abe Lincoln's killer, is said to have left his hole-in-the-ground home in Kansas and died in the Great Hinckley Fire, in the neighboring town of Neodesha.

Hinckley's current slogan is "Relax...Have Fun!"

Also see: Great Peshtigo Fire | Moose Lake Fire

Great Hinckley Fire Museum and Mass Grave

Lutheran Memorial Cemetery

Fire Monument Rd, Hinckley, MN
I-35 Exit 183. Drive east a half-mile to the easy-to-spot mass grave monument, on the north side of Fire Monument Rd at Lutheran Memorial Cemetery. The Fire Museum is in town, at 106 Old Hwy 61.
Museum: May - mid-Oct. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Tall Voyageur StatueTall Voyageur Statue, Pine City, MN - 13 mi.
World's Largest WalleyeWorld's Largest Walleye, Rush City, MN - 23 mi.
Big Gust: Giant PolicemanBig Gust: Giant Policeman, Grantsburg, WI - 20 mi.
In the region:
Meat Market Wiener, Lindstrom, MN - 43 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in Minnesota

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in Minnesota.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

September 30, 2020

My Sights

My Sights

Save Cool Vacation Destinations!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

Minnesota Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Billy the Kid (Sep 28-Oct 4, 2020)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from Subscribe now! Hotel & Motel Finder

Special rates for hotels.

Nearby Hotels: Hinckley, Minnesota

Nightly rates found:

Book Now