The Empire of Japan formally surrendered to Allied Forces on September 2, 1945, signing the papers aboard the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63). VJ-Day was celebrated with passion across America, including in Times Square in New York City, when Navy Photographer Victor Jorgensen snapped the famous shot below. Roughly three weeks later, a large swath of West Marin County was on fire.
This week we are publishing the story of the largest forest fire recorded in Marin County history. It started a few miles upstream from Samuel P. Taylor's Pioneer Paper Mill. After making his fortune in the Gold Rush, Taylor is best remembered for building the Mill in 1856 along Papermill Creek, then known as Daniel's Creek, the first Paper Mill of it's kind in California. He used scrap paper and rags from San Francisco to produce newsprint, and the world's first square bottomed bags, a novelty back then. After the Pioneer Mill burned down in 1916, another mill was built and operated by the Ruoff family upstream, and this is where the fire started, according to West Marin Historian Dewey Livingston.
Thanks to our contributors to this story - Dewey Livingston for his story, and Greg Jennings, Rich Testa, Pete Martin, and Laurie Thompson for the use of photographs. We'll grow this story over time, so please let us know if you have anything to add.
Our Blog announces new site content, and gives the context of the topic and it's relationship to fire service history. Written by Tom Forster.