Firefighters save historical items from Prophetstown blaze

After fire destroyed most of Prophetstown’s Main Street, volunteers are now working to salvage centuries-old items that firefighters saved from the blaze.

“I was here at 4 a.m., and watching the fire, I didn’t think we’d save anything out of our building. But it became a priority for our firefighters; they wanted to save as much as they could,” said president Janet Goodell.

Firefighters managed to save 10 pick-up trucks and a livestock trailer full of items from the historical society, one of the eight buildings destroyed in the fire.

“I was heartbroken, and then, the more I saw, the happier I got that we were able to save a lot of our stuff,” said member Charlene Hanson.

Historical society members have spent the past week-and-a-half sorting, stacking and drying photos that date back to the 1800s. Other volunteers have placed paper towels between each page of historical books and bank ledgers.

“We maybe saved 30 to 40 percent of what we had in the building. Everything on the second floor was destroyed totally,” said Goodell.

Among the items saved were a Civil War flag, a time clock from the old Eclipse Lawn Mower factory, and a painting of Native American “The Prophet” for whom the town was named.

Society members are now working to clean and restore many of the items.

“We’ll get through it, because this is the kind of town — if they decide they’re going to do something, they do it,” said member Beverly Peterson.

A new location for the historical society museum is still being determined, but many members say they would love to see it rebuilt in downtown Prophetstown.

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