Chicago, IL Saw Mill Boiler Explosion, July 1889

A BOILER BURSTS.

CAUSES GREAT HAVOC IN A CHICAGO SAW MILL.

THREE MEN INSTANTLY KILLED AND SEVERAL OTHERS SERIOUSLY INJURED -- THE BUILDING IS TORN TO PIECES -- OTHER DAMAGE DONE.

Chicago, July 19. -- Three men were killed and five seriously injured by the explosion of a boiler in the saw mill belonging to the R. B. Stone Lumber company, located on the edge of the slip near Hoyne Avenue on the north side of the South Branch.
The names of the killed are:
ALBERT DOLLAR.
JEFFREY KING, the engineer.
OSCAR KRAIL.
The injured were all able to go to their homes without assistance. The bodies of the unfortunate men who were killed were recovered from the debris and removed to the morgue.
At the time of the accident there were eight or ten men in the shed. The unfortunate engineer was in the act of throwing coal on the fire under the boiler. His body was hurled a distance of twenty feet, and was only recovered after much difficulty from its resting place on the river bank among a great pile of debris. The body was frightfully mangled, and at first could not be identified, as the clothes were burned off and the face disfigured.
DOLLAR was also fearfully disfigured, a piece of the flying boiler having struck him in the chest, tearing the body in a horrible manner, but the rescuers had no difficulty in identifying him. The third man who was killed was a stranger, having just applied for work. His clothes were almost entirely burned off. When the disaster happened the man was sitting on a pile of lumber near by, and was struck by either the flying lumber or a piece of the boiler. At any rate the poor fellow was struck on the head, and portions of the building and other rubbish fell upon him, killing him instantly.
The force of the explosion was tremendous. Men working near at hand were thrown to the ground, two teams of horses standing fifty feet away were thrown over, but immediately jumped up and ran away, but were stopped on Blue Island Avenue. A box car loaded with heavy pine timber was thrown from the switch-track of the Burlington Road near by and turned completely over, and heavy pieces of iron were thrown 200 and 300 feet away. One piece of the boiler, weighing 500 or 600 pounds, was shot a distance of 200 feet westward, and other large chunks of iron were scattered in every direction. There was chaos everywhere.
The cause of the disaster can only be conjectured. The city boiler inspector examined the boiler April 17, as did also the inspector for the insurance company on the 17th of June. Both inspectors pronounced the boiler to be in good condition and fully equal to the work of the mill. An old and expert engineer, who runs a similar engine in a neighboring yard, said that in his opinion it was the river water used in the boiler that caused the explosion. He also said that the material of which the boiler was made was too thin for the work required. Members of the firm say that they can assign no reason for the accident, as they had taken all precautions to insure safety.

Burlington Hawk Eye, Iowa 1889-07-20