Wilpin, MN powder plant explosion, Jan 1912


Dupont Plant at Wilpin, Minn., Was Totally Destroyed in Accident From Unknown Cause.

Hibbing, Jan. 12. - The glaze mill at the Dupont powder plant, a mile from Wilpin station and about seven miles from Hibbing, was totally destroyed by an explosion yesterday and two employes, James Haley and Charles Winter were instantly killed.

The cause of the explosion will probably never be known. Haley was almost entirely obliterated, only a few pieces of bones and flesh being found. It is supposed that he was inside the building. Winter's body was picked up intact, not very badly mutilated, but it was found about 30 rods from the building.

The powder plant has been in operation only about two months and the explosion occurred ten minutes after Superintendent Feeney and Supervising Engineer Smith had made their daily inspection. They both state that everything was apparently all right when they left.

The glazing is the last process in the making of powder. The unfinished product is placed in a long steel cylinder and mixed with graphite, the cylinder being turned by power. Hales is supposed to have been in the building near this cylinder, while Winter was probably nearby, on the outside. The structure was of wood, covered with corrugated iron. The other buildings at the plant were doubtless saved by the great barricade of earth and stone that surrounded the glaze mill.

It is said that the accident will result in the entire plant being closed down for at least two months.

James Haley was 39 years old and had long resided in Hibbing, where his mother and thre brothers are also old residents. Mrs. M. A. Haley, the mother, left for Rochester, Minn., Wednesday with a little niece who was to be operated upon there. The brothers are J. A. Haley, a member of the Minnesota legislature; George Haley and Joe Haley. A sister, Mrs. W. L. Kerr, lives at Stevenson, near here.

Winter was 24 years old and came here from Columbus, Kan. It is said that he had been employed in powder mills all his working life. His father was killed at an explosion of a powder plant near Columbus seven years ago. This morning Winter had told some of the men about the plant that he intended to lay off in the afternoon as he wanted to go to Hibbing to purchase a present for his sister who had been very recently married.

Both the bodies were brought to Hibbing this afternoon and were viewed by Deputy Coroner Pengilly, who announced that he did not consider it necessary to hold an inquest.

The Grand Forks Daily Herald, Grand Forks, ND 13 Jan 1912