Cottrell/Baldwin Lecture Series Presents "The Great Marlow Fire"

March 27, 2007


Amanda Nickerson, Communications Specialist
Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
(603) 224-9945, ext. 301


"The Great Marlow Fire" topic for 3rd in Series at Fox State Forest

HILLSBOROUGH, N.H., March 27, 2007 — More than sixty-five years have passed since a great conflagration swept through the towns of Marlow and Stoddard, NH. The memory of those days remains — on the landscape and in the minds of those who lived through it — still lingers. You can learn more about the largest forest fire in New Hampshire’s history on Tuesday, April 10 from 7 to 8:30 pm at Fox State Forest in Hillsborough. In the third presentation of the 2007 Cottrell/Baldwin Lecture Series, local historian and film producer Tracy Messer will air “Four Days of Fire,” a new documentary about the Great Marlow-Stoddard Fire. “The story has elements of bravery, irony, terror, and humor,” says Messer. “It’s mostly through interviews of those who were involved, like Charlie Strickland, who was 15 when he helped fight his hometown blaze.”

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and the New Hampshire Division of Forest and Lands are co-sponsoring the Cottrell/Baldwin Lecture series. For more information, please call 603-224-9945 or visit

After the infamous Hurricane of 1938, the Monadnock highlands, like a lot of New Hampshire, were littered with dense tangles of storm-toppled trees. Everywhere, people were setting up portable saw mills to cut up the downed and tinder-dry wood. On an unusually hot April day in 1941, one of those mills sparked, setting the legendary blaze. Over the course of three days, flames roared across 24,000 acres — burning 48% of the town of Marlow and 42% of the town Stoddard. The voracious fire destroyed many homes, farms, and businesses yet remarkably, not one human life was lost.

Messer began accumulating photos, records, and interviews back in 1991 during the 50th anniversary commemoration of the fire. The resulting documentary focuses on how townspeople cooperated against the overwhelming flames. It includes the remarkable stories of folks like "Boots" Beauman, who volunteered to drive a tanker truck filled with gasoline through the burning woodlands to help refuel the fire fighting vehicles. It also features Bill House, the forester and world-renowned mountaineer who was among the first to arrive on the scene and Susie Holland, who maintained communications around the clock amongst the various firefighters. Rosina Richardson, PT Barnum's 815 pound “Mammoth Queen,” makes an interesting side-note, as her birthplace was the first of many local landmarks to be destroyed by the fire.

The documentary has been shown throughout the Monadnock area to standing-room only crowds.

Patricia Gallup, cofounder and chairperson of PC Connection, Inc. sponsored the production of “Four Days of Fury.” Marlow was the company’s birthplace, which is now a nation-wide supplier of personal computer products. Kris Richardson, a PC Connection employee, worked as videographer and editor for the documentary.

The Cottrell/Baldwin Lecture Series will conclude on April 24th with a presentation by Dr. Allen Koop from the Dartmouth College History Department, entitled “Stark Decency": A World War II German Prison Camp in New Hampshire.” The Cottrell/Baldwin Environmental Lecture Series at Fox State Forest honors the environmental, conservation, and scholarly legacies of the late conservationists Annette and Bill Cottrell and the late state forester Henry Baldwin. The series is proudly co-sponsored by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands, and is held annually at Fox State Forest in Hillsborough.

For more information and directions, please contact the Forest Society at 603-224-9945.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is the state’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. In order to preserve the quality of life New Hampshire residents know today, the goal of the Forest Society, in partnership with other conservation organizations, private landowners, and government, is to conserve an additional one million acres of the state’s most significant natural lands for trails, parks, farms and forests by 2026.