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The Consummate Collector
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I was just reading an article in the Harpers Weekly about the great Colt factory fire. The buildings destroyed were the front main building, 500 feet long by 60 feet wide, and three stories in height. This main building contained the most expensive guns and pistol machinery, and employed 800 workman. Nearly everything movable was saved, including several thousand dollars worth of stock, and pistols packed for shipment. The loss from the fire was estimated at over one million dollars. The article stated that it would take two years to rebuild.

 

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I believe records of firearms were lost in this fire. That is why any Colt percussion from before 1864 has no or limited info on it. I wish whoever was hauling stuff out of there as it burned had maybe thrown a box or two of their 1851 navy records on it, but in that mayhem I am sure that was considered worthless compared to equipment.
 

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That is incredible history......those missing records by the way, or at least many of them, can be found in the Connecticut State Library and in private collections nearby.
 

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Other than Flooring, what was there to Burn in such a Building? Walls were all Masonry/Stone, Roofing was likely Slate...

I believe there was a River very close by also, so, where were the Hartford - or even Colt - Fire Brigades and Horse Drawn Steam Pumps and Hoses and all that?

Seems odd...

Anyone have any info on how the Fire got started? And, how come it was not put out forthwith?
 

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Don't forget that the armory was in production from around 1856 till the fire of 1864. Preventive measures to contain fires were practically non-exsistant, the wooden floors stained by oil and other dirt.

The accounts of the fire tell the story of swift spreading of the flames and heroic actions by guardsmen and factoryworkers to salvage as much as possible.
The cause of the fire remains a mystery, even a possible act of sabotage by Southern sympathisers is one of the stories surrounding the great fire of 1864.

It is however the achievement of Elizabeth Jarvis Colt that the factory was rebuilt. The fire-insurance was completely insufficient to cover the full extent of the damage and it was Samuel Colt's widow who decided to make large sums of the Colt-fortune available to rebuild the factory.
 

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According to the Colt Bible page 159/160 the fire broke out in the morning at around 8:15 in the attic. First attempts to fight the fire failed because of lack of waterpressure on a hose. Once the fire had spread to the roof the building basically was doomed.

(Quote)
The floors of the building were of yellow pine, and had become thoroughly saturated with oil which had dripped from the machinery. In the attic,where the fire originated, there was stored a large number of patterns which furnished ready combustion. The flames shot through the openings with terrible fury, timbers fell here and there like baubles before the pranks of a child; the black smoke curled in the air and shot out in full volumes; and the powerfull streams of water were but drops to sparkle in the red flames for a moment and sink down, hissing and defied. At about 9 o'clock the dome over the main building fell in with a tremendous crash, and gave to the flames new life for the moment
(Unquote)


Interesting note: the workforce was locked in at there workstations. Common use back then but to me as a factory worker a horrifying thought.
 

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That is incredible history......those missing records by the way, or at least many of them, can be found in the Connecticut State Library and in private collections nearby.
??? Are you sure? I thought those early records were gone forever. Did anybody ever access them and make them available to researchers?
 
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