Baltimore, MD Steamer MEDORA Explosion, Apr 1842
From the Baltimore papers.
AWFUL STEAMBOAT EXPLOSION.
It is our melancholy duty to record the most fearful and fatal steamboat explosion which has ever taken place on the waters of the Chesapeake. The new and splendid steamboat Medora, built for the line between this city and Norfolk, was yesterday rendered a wreck by the explosion of her steam boiler, sttended by a fearful destruction of human life.
The Medora was just completed, and preparatory to being turned out from the hands of the machinists, a number of persons were invited to go in her on an experimental trip. The day being pleasant, it is supposed that probably one hundred or more, were on board, including some of the Directors of the Steamboat Company and their friends, and a number of the hands engaged in finishing the vessel, putting in the machinery, &c. and otherwise connected with the construction or sailing of the boat.
Soon after three o'clock, P.M. the boat was about to start from the wharf of the engine builder, Mr. John Watchman, on the south side of the basin, on the proposed trip. A gentleman who was on board informs us that the engine had only made the second revolution, in order to back the Medora from the wharf, when the boiler exploded with a loud noise, carrying upwards a considerable portion of the upper deck and those upon it, and blowing the smoke stacks high in the air. The main force of the explosion was almost exclusively towards the head of the boat, and the portion of the boat around the boiler was torn to pieces. The boiler itself, an immense one of iron, was thrown crosswise on the deck.
The boat was instantly enveloped in a cloud of scalding steam, which was inhaled by some with fatal consequences, while others suffered externally in their persons from its effects. Out informant was in the after part of the boat, where the steam had no injurious effect. He states that several persons jumped overboard, and that one of them was drowned. The boat immediately settled in the water until her hull rested on the bottom of the river.
In the centre and forward part of the boat there was a fearful destruction of life and limb. Some of those on board were blown high in the air and fell on shore, in the water, and on the boats lying near by. Others were crushed with the splintered timbers; others scalded with the steam; while those below the docks, not having time to escape, were either suffocated by the steam or drowned when the boat sunk.
When we reached the scene of desolation we found a large number of persons, among whom were several physicians, busily engaged in endeavoring to assist the injured, and carrying away those who were dead or dying. So great was the confusion that prevailed, and so little was known as to the number and names of the persons on board, that no complete account could be obtained. We annex a list of all those who were injured or killed, as far as we could learn them. There are no doubt some who were on board, whose loss will only be known by thier not returning to their homes.
Captain SUTTON, who had command of the boat, was standing over the boiler when it exploded. He was much injured on the head, and it was very doubful yesterday whether he would recover.
JOHN C. MOALE, Esq. the agent of the steamboat line, was on board with his two sons. MR. MOALE had his right foot dislocated, and was injured in the side and back. Soon after he was taken home, he expired.
MR. MOALE'S eldest son WILLIAM, a fine lad about 14 years of age, was killed almost instantly.
His second son, who was also on board, was dangerously injured.
JOSEPH LECOMPTE, had both legs broken, and was otherwise much injured. He was blown high into the air, and fell on board the steamboat Constitution lying close by. He died soon after being taken on shore.
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