Contributed by klstacy_home
Description: Blown to Atoms - Explosion of 1300 Powder KegsDate: July 18 1890
Newspaper published in: Huntsville, AL
Page/Column: Page 1, Column 2
BLOWN TO ATOMS
By an Explosion of Thirteen Hundred Kegs of Powder
Twenty-Five Thousand Kegs Stored Near by Stand the Shock
Twelve Killed Outright and a Number Injured
King’s Station on the Little Miami Railroad Near Cincinnati, the
Scene of the Calamity—The Entire Plant of the Peters Cartridge
Company Wiped Out. The Report Heard for Several Miles
CINCINNATI, July 17.—One of the worst accidents, with sweeping loss of life and property that ever happened along the Little Miami railroad, took place at King’s station, twenty-seven miles from this city, the location of the King’s Great Western powder words, Tuesday afternoon at 4 o’clock.
Four freight cars, two loaded with nitrate of soda and the other two with 1,250 kegs of powder, were struck by others in making a running switch. Almost immediately there was a deafening report.
When the dense and overpowering vista of smoke that attended the explosion and hung about the wreckage had somewhat cleared away, a half dozen lives had gone out and buildings were utterly blown to splinters or were in flames.
The fire, besides its terrible destruction of life, destroyed six residences, the office of the company, the new offices, shell factory, cartridge factory, box factory, two ware houses, railroad station, freight house, eight cars and several small buildings.
The flames advanced greedily to the north, rapidly consuming the dwelling of Mrs. Schneider, whose husband was recently killed in an explosion at the mill, also the houses of widow Rebecca Dowdall, Frederick Kellar and James Moss. It is believed that at the Kellar residence the mother and two little children perished. Mrs. Moss is among the dead.
Employees rushed from the neighboring cartridge factories into the rain of bricks and blazing planks and heavy car wheels that had been tossed like pebbles high into the air. Some twenty-five girls were employed in the shell factory, a 50 by 100 sheet iron building 100 yards from the track. The walls rocked and split, and the occupants rushed from the structure in frenzy. Lottie Behr was pinned by timbers to the floor, but was rescued with a shattered right arm just before the flames embraced the building and consumed it.
Might Have Been Worse.
But a short distance away are the magazines of the King’s Powder company, where 25,000 kegs of explosives were stored. Not a spark alighted there else the calamity must have been immensely magnified. This company loses nothing save a few tinder-like, isolated out-houses used for manufacturing. The Peters Cartridge company loses its entire plant and offices.
The Little Miami at once dispatched a train bearing assistance, and much noble assistance was afforded. Physicians were gathered up along the line and were hastened to the scene.
The report of the explosion was heard eight and ten miles away, and for quite a distance around the scene of the disaster the effects could be seen in shattered windows and broken chimneys.
PARTICULARS OF THE ACCIDENT
As Gathered by a Reporter from People Who Saw It
The particulars of the terrible holocaust, as gleaned from eye-witnesses, are as follows:
The local freight on the Little Miami railway stopped at King’s station to take out two cars loaded with powder. The engine cut off from the train and cut in a cut of cars coupled on to the powder cars. The brakeman, who was a young hand, either let his cut off cars get away from him, or did not apply the brakes soon enough, or the brakes refused to work, and the cut off cars struck the two cars of powder, which were driven against three cars loaded with soda ash.
When the cars struck there was an explosion that shook the country for miles about and tore the buildings around to pieces, and in less than three minutes there was a second explosion, and then the whole mass of buildings was on fire, and before the occupants had recovered from the shock of the first explosion, the second explosion came, and the remaining houses were torn to pieces, and in two minutes the entire part of the town above the railroad track was a seething mass of fire.
As the flames spread, explosion after explosion followed, and the alarm was given that fire would reach the magazines, which contained _00,000 pounds of powder, when men and women gathered their children that could be found and fled for the surrounding hills for their lives; and many of these were injured, some seriously, but they were not conscious of it until a mile from the ill-fated explosion.
Story of an Eye-Witness.
Perhaps the best eye-witness of the terrible explosion was Mr. Ry Jones, one of the brakemen on the local freight train, which was switching at the time the explosion happened. Mr. Jones told his terrible experience as follows:
“The train had stopped to run in a cut of cars and out two cars of powder. The brakeman seemed not to hold up the cut soon enough, or the brake wouldn’t work, and the cut went into the pocket at a rapid rate. When the brakeman saw he could not stop the cut he lay down on the roof and held on to the running board.
“The cut struck the powder cars, and they run back until the powder cars struck three other cars, when there was an explosion. The air was filled with sticks and debris of every description, and I believe it was blown a thousand feet high. I was holding flat to the roof. In less than five minutes every building was on fire, and it was a terrible sight, I believe there were fully twenty explosions.”
Frank C. Hunt, the Little Miami railroad agent, had just tacked the cards on the cars of powder and come back up to the station when the explosion took place. The freight house was blown through the passenger station, completely wrecking it, but the agent escaped with only a severe shock.
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Those definitely known to have perished are:
William Franey, of Waynesville, brakeman.
Albert Williams, cartridge maker.
Samuel Stevenson, teamster.
Henry Reynolds, teamster.
Mrs. James Moss, wife of mill hand, and 3-year-old child.
Mrs. Frederick Keller, wife of foreman of the mill, and 4-year-old son.
Mrs. Collins and child.
Franey was brakeman of the freight. Had he not been seen at his post a moment previous to the accident, his fate would have been a matter of conjecture, as not a remnant of his corpse or clothing could be found.
The list of injured, from which the death-roll is gradually being recruited, is as follows:
Mrs. E. E. Tighthisser, of Cincinnati; two ribs broken, hurt internally.
Mrs. Lida Elston, foot and hand badly burned.
Mrs. Bertha Schneider, scalp badly cut and torn.
Nick Schneider, badly cut about the head and side.
Charles Collins, skull crushed and injured internally.
Frederick Keller, face badly burned and scalp torn.
Mrs. Barbara Schneider, head badly cut.
Miss Kate Schneider, face badly burned.
John Maag, face badly cut and burned.
Mother Dowdell, badly cut and bruised.
Goldie E. Moss, badly burned.
Mrs. Joseph Dowdell, cut about face and body.
Miss Bena Synder, hurt about the head.
Charles Moon, badly hurt about the body.
Miss Moon, head, limbs and body cut by flying timbers.
James Deacon, badly hurt by flying timbers.
Mrs. James Deacon, bruised and head hurt.
Mrs. John Snyder, hurt internally.
Mrs. John Flinn, arms and face cut by falling debris.
Charles Thompson, ankle broke.
Allie Thompson, hurt internally.
Superintendent W. H. McKibben, cartridge factory, both hands badly burned.
Josh Collet, employed at cartridge factory, badly injured.
Edward Balmer, clerk, King’s office, hearing affected.
Frank Hunt, telegraph operator, hearing affected.
Miss Swigert, South Lebanon, employed in cartridge factory, badly hurt.
Tommy Miller, in telegraph office, stunned.
Miss Gilliam, badly hurt.
Miss Hutchinson, stunned.