The Memory Quilt
A Tale of Friends & Family, Lost & Found in the Great Cloquet Fire of 1918
Pam Erickson is the third generation of her family to grow up in Cloquet, Minnesota. Both of her father’s parents lived through the fire of 1918, and parts of their real life stories were incorporated into the book.
"I grew up in Cloquet, and had heard about the fire since I was a little girl. But it wasn’t until my grandma told my sister and me how her family survived the fire – by lying in the bottom of a shallow gravel pit on their farm and covering themselves with wet rugs and blankets – that I realized I really didn’t know much of the details, and I wanted to find out more about what had happened.
After reading newspaper accounts of the fire, I was struck by the number of people reported missing or assumed dead, who turned up alive and well a few days later. Because the fire spread so quickly, families became separated as they were forced to evacuate on four separate trains; some people ended up in nearby Duluth, Minn., others in Superior, Wis. With no town or homes to return to, and all of the phone and telegraph lines burned, it took several weeks for many people to finally locate all of their family members. This, along with my family’s story, became the inspiration for "The Memory Quilt."