Arlo Everling, a guest at the Saylor Hotel in Harlan, Iowa, staggered from his second floor room at 1:30 a.m. on February 21, 1949. Nearly overcome with smoke, he raised the alarm. Twenty other guests were routed from their beds as smoke filled the rooms.
Iowa History, a weekly column, appears at IowaWatch on Saturdays. Cheryl Mullenbach is a former history teacher, newspaper editor, and public television project manager.