Mare Island, CA Steamer BOSTON Explosion, June 1892
A DOZEN DEAD.
SEAMEN BELONGING TO THE UNITED STATES STEAMER BOSTON BLOWN TO ATOMS.
THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED AT THE MARE ISLAND NAVY YARD -- HOW WILL NEVER BE KNOWN.
MEN WERE LOADING SHELLS AND IT IS SUPPOSED ONE OF THEM WAS DROPPED.
San Francisco, June 15. -- A terrible explosion occurred at the magazine connected with the Mare Island navy yard at 10:30 a.m., by which a dozen men were killed outright and three injured.
The first explosion shook the town of Vallejo like a sharp shock of an earthquake and for half an hour report after report was hard as the shells exploded.
The fire bells at the navy yard were rung and the entire force rushed to the scene.The first spectacle to greet them was the burned and charred bodies of two apprentice seamen on the beach 200 yards from the magazine. Further on a terrible sight met their gaze. In the midst of the ruins and all around on the side hills were seen bodies and pieces of bodies scattered here and there. Work of rescue was at once begun and the fragments of human remains were gathered and placed in a row on the beach.
How the explosion occurred will never be known. A working party of fifteen men from the United States steamer Boston was down to prepare ammunition and fill shells for the ship. All were at work filling under the charge of GUNNER HITTINGER. It is supposed one of the party dropped a shell and that the concussion caused the explosion. One of the first to go to the scene was Dr. Lewis of the naval hospital. He brave the danger and went into the midst of exploding shells to save life if possible, but the explosion had finished its work and he found but one soul possessed of life and this body, filled with pieces of shell and burned and bleeding, was snatced from the flames and hurried to the hospital. Magazine Watchmen WATSON and ADMASTADT were on duty in other parts of the ground. Although injured they will live. The body of GUNNER HITTINGER was found on the roof of shell house No. 1, having been blown through the roof of shell house No. 2, which was afterwards destroyed by fire. Almost the entire crew of the Boston, to which ship the dead and wounded belonged, worked hard in the ruins underthe direction of Lieutenants Blas, Robinson and Hughes.
Had the entire magazine, which contained tons of explosives, caught fire Valejo would have been shattered. It is a miracle, being as close as it was, that this did not occur.
A CORRECTED LIST.
OF THE DEAD IN THE MARE ISLAND DISASTER -- THE ORIGIN STILL A MYSTERY.
San Francisco, June 15. -- Following is the corrected list of the killed by the explosion at Mare Island in the magazine of the cruiser Boston:
GEORGE HITTINGER, gunner.
THOMAS SEYMOUR, chief gunner.
C. O. L. SINDBERG, gunner.
WILLIAM WASHBURN, seaman.
F. LEGAT, seaman.
JOHN JOHNSON, seaman.
A. KELVELL, ordinary seaman.
WILLIAM HACKETT, seaman apprentice.
W. OSTRANDER, seaman apprentice.
H. JOES, apprentice.
C. W. SMITH.
Landsman R. REINCKE died since and was the only one who said a word of experience of the explosion before death. He said that all he knew was that he suddenly found himself flying in the air. When found he had a piece of board clean through his body. Two reports are current as to the cause of the explosion. One is that burning grass ignited the magazine, the other that one of the men dropped a shell in the filling room of the magazine and the shell exploded. Coroner King, who held the inquest, was interviewed. He says there was no one left to tell what was the real cause of the explosion. Parties standing near state that there were two explosions. Of three men taken to the hospital two have died.
Daily Huronite South Dakota 1892-06-15