Lawrenceburg, IN Steamer Fanny Fern Fire, Jan 1858
The Explosion and Total Burning of the "FANNY FERN" -- Several Persons Killed -- A Large Number Scalded and Missing -- Painfully Exciting Narrative.
[From the Cincinnati Commercial of Saturday.]
The steamer FANNY FERN, Captain WOODWARD, burst one of her boilers yesterday, producing a terrible catastrophe. It appears that she was on her way from St. Louis to Pittsburgh, with a fair load of freight, and some fifty or sixty passengers. Passengers on board have informed us that, when the boat left Lawrenceburg, on her way up, she was considerably lifted to one side, to which is partially attributed the casualty.
When opposite Gravel Pit, a few miles above Lawrenceburg, and a few miles, also, below North Bend, she burst one of her boilers, scattering death and destruction all around. We conversed last evening with some of the passengers who were on board, and also with one of the stewards of the boat.
They say that the explosion was terrific, and that, as a matter of course, great confusion prevailed, each one of the many passengers trying to save him or herself. It was thought at first that from thirteen to fifteen were killed, but, from what we can learn, there is not so great a number.
The boat was in command of Captain BEN WOODWARD, and as he was standing near the pilot house at the time, and was among the missing when everybody saved got ashore, it is pretty certain that he must be among the killed. The clerk, MR. ALFRED ROGERS, is very badly scalded, and last evening, when we called at the Broadway Hotel, where he had been taken, fears were entertained that his recovery was doubtful.
One of the stewards informed us that a MR. J. HARRISON, who hails from New York, was blown up from the desk and alighted in the river, and that a skiff, that happened to be at the shore, was sent to his rescue. The propellers of the skiff succeeded not only in picking up MR. HARRISON, but they took his lady out of her stateroom, and deposited her safely on shore.
JOHN F. METZLER, from Baltimore, was is state room No. 5, and was blown up with the rest; he was pretty badly scalded in the face and hands. The second clerk, MR. HENRY DRUM, was also badly scalded. The steward, A. J. KIRKPATRICK, was scalded on the arm and left side. Two of the firemen were instantly killed; we did not get their names.
MOSES SCOTT, the chief pilot, essentially uninjured; but WESLEY JACOBS, the second pilot, was slightly scalded.
One lady, whose name we could not learn, jumped overboard with a child in her arms, and was saved by one of the cabin boys, who was afterward drowned. His name was JAMES CAVANAUGH, who resided in Allegheny city.
As it happened, the cars of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad had run off the track at Gravel Pit, where the casualty occurred, and the wounded, as well as the uninjured, were brought up to the city on board.
It is hardly possible to calculate the amount of damage done to property, or the loss of life sustained. By some of the passengers the cause of the accident is attributed to one thing, and by others to another; some think that the engineer was in fault, and others that is was owing to the was the boat was loaded. We shall probably hear further particulars to-morrow.
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