Pascagoula, MS Sawmill Explosion, July 1869


From the New Orleans Picayune, July 27.
We are informed that on Friday evening last, 23d inst., the steam sawmill of MR. VAN WAGNER, of Pascagoula, Miss., blew up with a tremendous explosion and very disastrous effect. The machinery was totally broken up and scattered in every direction, and several persons, four white and three black, were involved in the destruction. The engineer, JAMES MARTIN, and the fireman, WOODWARD, were fatally hurt, and died the following night. The rest, though badly scalded or wounded, may possibly recover. The most doubtful case is that of MRS. COUNSEL, white, who happened to be passing about a hundred yards in from of the mill, when one of the boilers, lifted from its place and shot like an arrow, brushed her in its course with such violence as to hurl her a distance aside, breaking her left arm and thigh bones near the upper joints, and the right arm near the wrist. The boiler, having dut down two trees as large as a schooner's mast, lodged against a large live oak tree, one hundred and fifty-five yards from the mill. The cause of the disaster is not understood, as all the managers were regularly on duty, and the engineer had stopped the running but a few minutes to fix the tackling of one of the bands. Altogether, it was a melancholy exhibition of the power of rabid steam.

The New York Times New York 1869-08-01