Oshkosh was once considered the lumber capital of the world since the first sawmill began in 1847 along the Fox River. The town quickly became littered with sawdust and lumber. After a while with no rain—on Wednesday, April 28, 1875—the winds began to pick up. Mills were required to shut down in these favorable fire conditions. At 1:00pm, fire alarms began to ring at Morgan mill. Thomas Davis made a heroic attempt to extinguish the fire, but suffered too many burn wounds to survive. In less than 20 minutes, the winds carried the fire miles. The fire went out of control for four hours, setting the entire area of Main Street to Merritt to the river in aflame.
Oshkosh citizens were resilient and rebuilt the downtown district bigger and better than it ever was before. Many of these resurrected buildings still stand today.