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This Day in History: Fire at the Domed Hut

Michael "Mad Mike" McMurphy

June 23, 1902. DOYLE, CALIFORNIA. Last night, the acrid scent of smoke wafted down Main Street. Residents poured from their homes, afraid one of the fires that swept through the Sierras had finally found their small mountain town. But the fire was contained to a small, circular stoned hut, the home of local gold miner “Mad Mike” McMurphy, who told friends that its circular design would keep away the fairies.

Volunteer firefighters broke down the hut’s wooden door and were horrified to find Mad Mike tied to his bed and burnt nearly beyond recognition.

The murderer remains at large.

"Mad Mike was all right. But it ain't murder, if he wasn't human," said neighbor, Reginald Perkins.

Reginald and several others this reporter spoke with believe Mike was the victim of a “fairy cure.” In spite of the marvels of our modern era, many country people still believe that fairies not only exist, but steal humans from their homes and substitute lookalike fairies in their place. Various “cures” to affect the return of the stolen human are being peddled, including forcing noxious substances down the presumed fairies throat and setting them on fire, in the hopes that the stolen human would reappear.

Editor's note - June 23, 2018. Mad Mike’s hut is now home to the Doyle Visitor Center. This single-room, turret-like building, set in a small park-like area, has charmed natives and visitors for decades.


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