Boston, MA Subway Explosion, Mar 1897

Scene of the Explosion




Boston, March 5. -- An accident, by far the worst of its kind ever known in Boston, occurred at a few minutes before noon yesterday, when an explosion of illuminating gas, in the subway, at the intersection of Tremont and Boylston streets, caused the death of six persons and the injury to a score or more of others, although not more than 10 were severely hurt.
Buildings for hundreds of feet in all directions were damaged by the concussion, and several electric cars, which were passing at the time, were wrecked. One of these caught fire and was burned to the tracks. The property loss will amount to thousands of dollars, including not only that sustained by real estate owners, but also that resulting from a gereral demolision of goods in several of the stores in the vicinity.
The corrected list of killed is as follows:
REV. W. A. START, D. D., Medford, bursar Tufts college.
WILLIAM L. VINAL, Salem, Mass.
MISS A. M. BATES, Boston.
GUILFORD B. BIGELOW, driver, West End street railway.
BENJAMIN DOWNEY, herdic driver, Boston.
DELANO M. SIBLEY, cab driver, Boston.
The most seriously injured are:
FRED DEELEY, Boston, dislocated elbow, lacerated wound across the eyes and head and contusion of back. May die.
B. R. SARGENT, Boston, compound fracture of skull, expected to die.
WILLIAM MAYBOUR, Boston, fracture base of the skull.
PAUL HACKETT, Boston, both legs broken, head cut.
MRS. HORATIO BIGELOW, Boston, 80 years old, injured back.
MISS MAY E. STONE, Waltham, fractured thigh, scalp wound.
W. RICHARDSON, Newark, N. J., cut face, head.
S. D. NICKERSON, Boston, secretary Masonic Temple, head and face cut by glass.
SAMUEL MORTON, Detroit, scalp wound, five inches long, clear to the bone.
JOHN GILL, Boston, bad wound in shoulder.
MRS. SARAH A. PECK, 233 Everett street, Allston, severe injuries to back.
NELLIE JACKSON, 35 Marlboro street, Boston, serious injuries to back and arms.
MISS SADIE M. BROWN, Regent street, Boston, a reporter, spine injured.
CHARLOTTE N. NAIR, 371 Center street, Jamaica Plain, fractured thigh.
MISS ALICE RICHARDSON, 9 Fairfield street, Boston, fractured thigh.
SARAH FLEMING, 19 Marlboro street, injuries to head and back.
Thirty-five others received minor injuries, which were dressed at the Emergency hospital and the police station, and all returned to their homes.
The explosion is thought to have resulted from the ignition of gas from a leaky main, either by a spark from a passing electric car of from an improperly insulated wire in the subway. An investigation to determine just what was the cause will be held by the city authorities. Mayor QUINCY, who was promptly on the ground, stated that there would be no delay in looking into the matter.
The street was crowded with pedestrians and vehicles, besides the cars. Suddenly the earth and planking which comprised the roof of the subway at that point burst open with a terrific report, and, while the ground trembled, the air was filled with dust and smoke and flying debris. Cars and carriages were tipped over and their occupants thrown out into the midst of the wreckage. Flames leaped from the opening in the street and seized upon splintered wood of the cars which had been torn apart, and soon a brisk fire was burning. An alarm was given and a few moments later the rushing engines added their din to the confusion. The firemen went to work promptly and the flames were soon put out.
Meanwhile a vast crowd gathered and scores of ready hands began the work of rescue. It took considerable courage to approach the scene, for, besides the tangled and twisted rails and ironwork which supported the roof of the subway, the live trolley wires, which had been broken apart, dangled dangerously in all directions.
The West End emergency men shut off the power as soon as possible, and the rescuers suffered less obstruction.
The first body taken out was that of REV. W. A. START, an aged man, and bursar of Tufts college. He was about to board a Brookline car when the explosion occurred. Both of his legs were blown off, and the bones protruded from the flesh.
The car which he was about to take was directly over the spot where the gas ignited. It was raised bodily from the track by the force of the concussion, and dropping back, it split in two, and then the flames seized it. Near this car was another, a horse car of the Back Bay line, of which GUILFORD BIGELOW was the driver. Both horses attached to the car were killed and mutilated in a sickening manner. BIGELOW'S body was taken from beneath the car, which was badly wrecked. Several other cars in the vicinity were also badly shattered.
WILLIAM L. VINAL, a passenger in one of the cars, was found dead. DELANO M. SIBLEY, a herdic driver, was also picked up dead. BENJAMIN DOWNEY was alive when rescued, but he died on his way to the hospital.
MISS BATES, who was also killed, was driving with her sister-in-law. The carriage was overturned and its occupants thrown out. MISS BATES was taken up dead. Her companion was hurt.
The dead were removed to an undertaker's rooms nearby, and the injured were promptly taken to the hospitals.
Every ambulance in the city and every police patrol wagon in the vicinity were impressed into service. The work of rescue was accomplished in remarkably quick time, and the coolness of a large squad of police who were sent to the scene soon allayed the excitement.

Lowell Sun Massachusetts 1897-03-05