1904 – Second State Capitol Burns

On this date fire destroyed the second State Capitol building in Madison. On the evening of the 26th, the generator was turned off for the night. The only lights visible were two gas jets serving the night watchman. At approximately 2 a.m., night watchman Nat Crampton smelled smoke and followed the odor to a recently varnished ceiling, already in flames. A second watchman arrived to assist, but there was no water pressure with which to operate a hose. The fire department encountered a similar situation upon arrival. Governor Robert M. La Follette telegraphed fire departments in Janesville and Milwaukee for assistance. to douse the fire and entering the burning building to retrieve valuable papers. The fire was completly extinguished by 10 p.m. the next day. Losses were estimated to be close to $1 million.