Charlestown, MA Elevator Explosion, Apr 1898



Boston, April 17. -- The roof of the grain elevator at Hoosac Tunnel docks, Charlestown, was blown completely off by a dust explosion at 4 o'clock this morning, and the fire that followed not only destroyed the remaining portion of the immense structure, but consumed nearly the entire contenst, over 400,000 bushels of grain, mostly wheat. The steamer Cambroman, which had just finished loading at the dock, was towed out without injury, but some of the small tenants adjoining, and a building used as a distillery by Chapin & Trull, were damaged more or less by the debris from the roof.
The loss is estimated by fire underwriters at nearly $600,000, well covered by insurance. The explosion not only shook up the entire section of Charlestown, but was noticeably felt in the city proper and many of the suburbs. Coming at such an early hour, the tremendous jar aroused half the city. Three-quarters of the fire department, including two horseless engines and fire boats, were soon massed in the immediate vicinity.
When the first firemen arrived they found some of the streets impassable, for portions of the roof were in every direction. Great timbers had been blown a hundred feet in the air by the force of the explosion, and many of the upper stories of neighboring property were crushed and pierced by the great beams. The fire burned fiercely for nearly four hours and when it was extinguished there was only a shell of the structure left, while bursting from every side were tons and tons of wheat and oats. Much of the grain fell through the pier to the dock, while practically the whole of it was so thoroughly soaked with water that the loss will be complete. The grain was valued at about $400,000. The loss on the structure is $150,000 and the damage to the pier and adjoining property is about $50,000.
Chapin & Trull, the distillers, were damaged by water and flying timbers, and their loss will be about $15,000.

Kansas City Journal Missouri 1898-04-18