North Bend, KY Steamer FANNY FERN Explosion, Jan 1858

DREADFUL STEAMBOAT ACCIDENT.

EXPLOSION OF THE STEAMER FANNY FERN -- FIFTEEN LIVES REPORTED LOST.

Cincinnati, Thursday, Jan. 28.
The steamer FANNY FERN, bound to St. Louis from Pittsburg, with 400 tons of produce, 15 cabin and 20 deck passengers, exploded her boiler at 2 o'clock this afternoon, 18 miles below this city.
Fifteen lives are reported to be lost, including Capt. WOODWARD, several deck hands and firemen, and three ladies.
The boat took fire, burned to the water's edge, and then sank.
The Clerks, MESSRS. DUME and ROGERS, were scalded, the former badly, and the latter slightly.
The Ohio and Mississippi train brought up 30 of the sufferers, 15 of whom were wounded. The pilot, engineer and mate were saved.

The New York Times New York 1858-01-29

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STEAMBOAT DISASTER.

EXPLOSION OF THE "FANNY FERN" ON THE OHIO RIVER -- FOURTEEN LIVES LOST.
From the Cincinnati Gazette, Jan. 29.

About two o'clock yesterday afternoon, the stern-wheel steamer FANNY FERN, Captain BEN WOODWARD, on her way from St. Louis, when just at the head of Bosley's Bar, above North Bend, about 16 miles below this city, burst her middle boiler, with a most terrific noise. The exploded part was forced up and forward, carrying with it all but three rooms in the short cabin, the forward guard, the Texas, and the pilot-house. The boiler was carried a distance of seventy or eighty yards from the boart, and sunk in the river.
Immediately following the explosion, the cabin and every part of the boat was filled with steam, and the wildest confusion ensued, rendering anything like system or order utterly impossible. In the cabin there were twelve male and two female passengers, and on deck eleven males and three females -- 28 passengers in all. The survivors represent the crash which followed the first explosion as terrible and deafening, the upper portion of the steamer falling in one general mass upon the lower deck, as the underwork was carried away by the exploded boiler.
Captain WOODWARD was standing upon the starboard guard talking with MR. THOMPSON, the mate, and was blown by the explosion into the river, and has not since been seen. He was undoubtedly drowned. The mate was thrown against the railing, to which he held on until he recovered from the concussion, and immediately got out the life boat, and made an effort to save the passengers, in which he was fortunately successful.
The first clerk, ALFRED J. ROGERS, and the second clerk, HARVEY DRUM, both of Pittsburg, were in the office over the boilers, and both were thrown a distance of about sixty yards into the river, and were picked up by the life boat and conveyed to the Indiana shore. MR. ROGERS had his face, hands and feet very severely scalded, and DR. FISHBACK, who attends him at the Broadway Hotel, thinks he is injured internally. MR. DRUM was scalded on the face, hands and arms, but less severely. He is also at the Broadway.
A widow lady and child, whose name is not known, on her way from St. Louis to some place about fifty-five miles back of Maysville, who came on board at Louisville, were drowned. After the boat was in flames, the mother rushed to the stern of the boat, fastened the child to her person, and jumped into the river. She had been deserted by her husband in Missouri, and had been given a free passage to enable her to reach her friends. Both mother and child sunk and were seen no more.
The chambermaid, HANNAH THOMAS, from Allegany, Pa., was blown out of the boat with a part of the cabin a considerable distance into the air, and was seen to fall into the river, and was drowned.
A MR. and MRS. MURPHY, of Pennsylvania, a new married couple, on their way to their residence, were both drowned. MRS. M. was seen upon the stern of the boat, terribly frightened, and uncontrolable, and finally jumped into the river. Her husband who was standing by her side, followed to rescue her, but in the effort to secure a floating plank, both sunk to the bottom, locked in each other's arms.
MR. WILSON, a deck passenger, an Englishman, on his was to Canada, was blown into the river and drowned.
All of the persons who are known to be saved from the wreck, were conveyed to the Indiana shore, and the train of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad coming along soon after, the injured, scalded and escaped passengers and crew were conveyed to this city, and properly cared for. Many of the deck passengers who fortunately were uninjured, took passage last night on board the Hazel Dell, to their various points of destination. Others remained in the city, in charge of friends, as public charities.
The following are lists of killed and wounded:
Killed -- Capt. BENJAMIN WOODWARD; MR. and MRS. MURPHY, of Pennsylvania; WILLIAM WILSON, an Englishman; JAMES ANDERSON, porter of the boat; JAMES MALOY, a deck hand; MICHAEL DONAHUE, a deck hand; JOHN _____, a deck hand; JAMES CAVANAUGH, pantryman; THOMAS WALKER, fireman, (colored,) drowned; ROBERT RIDDLE, fireman, (colored,) killed by the explosion; widow lady and child - names not known; HANNAH THOMAS, chambermaid.
Injured -- ALFRED J. ROGERS, first clerk, severely scalded; HARRY DRUM, second clerk, slightly; ANDREW J. KIRKPATRICK, slightly; JOHN FLYNN, hands and face badly scalded; WM. PAUL, severely scalded; JOHN W. KERR, Allegheny Co., Penn., badly scalded all over the body, head and face -- will not probably survive; HENRY M. CASEY, of Philadelphia, severely scalded from head to foot.
A young man about seventeen years of age, named THOS. BURKE, a New Yorker, was working his passage from St. Louis to Pittsburg. After the explosion he rushed to the hurricane deck, and succeeded in launching the yawl boat, when a fireman named JIM, jumped in, and aided in picking up three cabin passengers who were floating upon pieces of the wreck, and conveyed them to the shore. He then, with one of the mates, rowed back to the boat, which was by this time in a blaze, and some ten or twelve others jumped in, and were landed on the Indiana side of the river. A third trip was made to the steamer, but no person was to be seen, and the intrepid young river men saved what was possible in the way of baggage. Young BURKE, who was instrumental, no doubt, in saving a number of lives, last night slept in the Hammond street Station house.
The explosion of the boiler scattered the fire from the furnace, and in a few minutes the boat was in flames. The passengers who were uninjured, ran wildly about, and several jumped overboard and were drowned, while others were picked up by the small boats and conveyed to the shore. Those who were saved describe the scene as one of great consternation, the passengers who were not thrown overboard by the explosion, running about shrieking and screaming in the wildest manner. The steamer headed for the Kentucky shore, after the explosion, and gradually floated down the river, and at a distance of a mile and a half from the scene of the catastrophe, burned to the water's edge, when the hull sunk within thirty feet of the land.
The FANNY FERN was owned by Captain W. W. MARTIN of Pittsburg, and was valued at $12,000. She was insured in three offices at Pittsburg, for $9,000.

The New York Times New York 1858-02-01