Museum Memories

This photo came from the archives and collections of the Cordova Historical Society

Things began looking up for Cordova by the spring of 1963. The Copper River Highway was on the horizon, fishing was about to start, and sprits were high when sometime in the very early hours near 4 a.m. May 2, 1963, the fire started. The conflagration began in the center of the business district on First Street inside the Club Café. The Club had received 1,500 gallons of fuel the day before, and now the furnace room fed the flames. By the time the fire was discovered, it had spread the full length of the Café and adjacent bar and within minutes flames had moved north to wooden, neighboring buildings.

Before anyone knew it, the fire was consuming the entire city block. Cordova volunteer fire fighters, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Sedge and everyone who could help waged the battle against the devastating fire. Friends began assisting friends in evacuating stores and apartments of merchandise and personal belongings. Calls for help from other communities went out and Anchorage began preparing flights with men and equipment. A desperate attempt to dynamite the fire wasn’t enough to stop the well-fueled blaze. It was nearly 2 p.m. before the fire could be declared actually under control. By the time assistance arrived the following morning only smoldering remains of what was once a thriving business district.