Illinois History Minutes

December 22 Illinois History Minute


It’s December 22nd, the day of the 1910 Chicago Union Stock Yards fire. The fire started before dawn in a warehouse. 50 fire engine companies and seven hook and ladder companies were called to the scene during the course of the fire. They were hampered by fire hydrants which had been turned off to prevent freezing. The collapse of a blazing building at the stockyards killed three civilians and 21 firefighters, including Chicago Fire Chief James Horan.

Rock musician Rick Nielsen was born on this day in 1948. The son of musicians, Nielsen was born in Elmhurst, but moved to Rockford, where his parents ran a music store, and he attended Rockford’s Guilford High School. It’s also where Nielsen co-founded the band Cheap Trick, becoming its lead guitarist and primary songwriter. For many years, Nielsen’s stage appearance resembled that of actor Huntz Hall from the old Bowery Boys movies, with a flipped-up ball cap similar to Hall’s, and a bowtie (exclusive to Nielsen). Nielsen has continued to live in Rockford, saying in a 2012 Washington Post article, “I could’ve gone anywhere. I could have moved to Hollywood. But I stayed here. This an authentic place.”