From the Madera Tribune, Volume 67, Number 83, 8 Sept. 1958
North Fork Store Burns As Community Threatened
North Fork, CA. — A North Fork landmark for nearly 60 years burned to the ground Sunday afternoon. The Trading Post, a general mercantile store, caused this community’s most spectacular fire in years. The County Assessor’s Office valued the building alone at $20,000. The store was built in 1901 or 1902, according to U.S. Forestry Service Officials. It is owned by B.O. Best of North Fork. Forestry officials said the blaze broke out in the attic about 3 o’clock, “probably faulty wiring.” Cal Div. of Forestry units from throughout the county rushed to the scene to prevent any large-scale spreading of the fire but were unable to cope with the “heat” generated. Within hours the building was burned to the ground.
Firefighters played water on an adjacent gas station and nearby buildings. A rain prevented almost “certain fire spread” through the community. Windows of the building across the street cracked from the heat with their wood frames oozing pitch causing mass discoloration.
The North Fork History Group Would Like to Know:
- What did the store have in their stock?
- What did it look like inside?
- Was the “tree in the road” still there when the building burned?
- What was the name of the store across the street that the windows cracked?
- Did ammunition inside the store explode during the fire?
Any other pertinent information about this fire would be greatly appreciated.
Follow-up to History Mystery #110
Comments from SNO Facebook:
Catherine Hubbell Hodges: Some people
Could have been the dedication of Highway 145….
May be an image of text that says ‘Madera County’s Big Day! Public Dedication of the MADERA- MADERA-YOSEMITE Highway Unit TOMORROW Sunday, May 25, 1941 10:30 Cottonwood Creek Bridge 8 Miles East of Madera YOU Are a Committee of One To Greet State and Highway Officials and Show Our Appreciation For This Fine Highway MADERA COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCT’
You might also find something in the California Highways and Public Works
1937-1967 by Caltrans…there is a reference to the bridge in the index at https://dot.ca.gov/…/documents/ser/cal-hwy-index-a11y.pdf
The Golden Shovel from the groundbreaking of Route 145 from Madera to Friant. No photo description available.
John Rigby where is this shovel now? That’s a great piece of early Madera County history.
Rob Stapleton: I think it’s somewhere in the museum.
Marie Trudel: Thugs, they are everywhere
Those have been gone a long time there was a man’s name on them by the name of Franchi
Jerry Waag: makes sense…Franchi dam is just up the road…https://www.usbr.gov/projects/index.php?id=171
Bureau of Reclamation
Comments from SNO Facebook page:
I just love the old pics of North Fork.
Great picture! I remember that old tree!!
Jone Taylor really?
Ed Priest yes are you saying are you really that old? At least I THINK I remember it. 🤣🤣
Mr. Best’s store.
Sue – I knew a Mr. Best in Oakhurst when I was young (he was not)…. I wonder if its the same man.
Caitlin Netzley couldn’t be because you weren’t born yet.😊
Sue – Did he have a kid named Ron…? (I think it was Ron Best that I knew…)
Caitlin Netzley don’t have a clue. I was a young child but remember going to Mr Best’s store with my Dad and him giving me candy. That’s probably why I remember him.😅
Sue – I love that!!!
Rose Davis Cobb
Caitlin Netzley he had 2 daughters Martha and Penny. My mother worked for Mr Best until they sold the store and moved to Redlands. Mrs Best would always send my grandmother and mother cards and letters. I kept in touch with the family until I moved to Phoenix and then lost touch.
Rose – Thank you for filling in details!! North Fork is truly the best little community.
Rose Davis Cobb
They had a full on grocery store, had a fresh meat case, ice cream case, farming and yard tools, feed for livestock, yard goods, farming and logging clothing, hardware. The Bests lived downstairs under the store. The tree was gone when the store burned as they had started putting in the sewer system, which I think was done by that time. The building on the inside had old wood floors and a screen door that slammed when you went in or out and a bench on the front “porch” that people could sit and visit or just rest.
I remember Mr Best having a store in that building when I was a small child.
Ysleta Kay Uzzell-Smith
I can still here the floorboards creaking as I walked on them. Carla and I would get a Pepsi and sit on the bench outside. I have some nickels that had melted together when the store burned.
I love this photo and I can remember when it would snow in early Sept. Awww back in the good ol days of moisture… 😁
Additional Comments from SNO Facebook:
Barbara Hastings Williams
Loved that store, I do think of it often, that one store sustained us as it had everything. I remember the wood stove and how the men would sit around it in the winter time, summer time there were benches on the out side. Hot Shot would always greet us.
Barbara Hastings Williams so do I. It was a fun little store. And remember all the penny candy he had.
Sure wish there were more cameras back then.
Where I live now my grandpa got and started the Ranch in 1902.
I shared the post to North Fork Shared Memories and my Mom said the tree was still there when it burned.
I am pretty sure the sewer system was not in at that time…I believe that was put in in the early 60’s …… I remember the tree being there when the store burned, but was removed shortly afterwards……Mom had a beauty shop across the street, Georgia’s Beauty Salon, next door in the same building…(Narly Carrot now) was the bakery/ donut shop, Chuck Lotts brother owned that…further down (Health Clinic now) was the Old Coral Cafe, Post Office and the Courthouse/Library…I remember the windows cracked and the paint blistered on Moms shop…
Such a great picture