Manchester, NH Amoskeag Mills Accident, Oct 1891

The most disastrous accident that has ever occurred in the long career of manufacturing at the Amoskeag Mills took place about 9.30 o’clock A. M., Thursday, October 15, 1891, when the cast-iron fly-wheel of a pair of large 36 inch double Corliss engines, together indicating two thousand horse power, burst, killing the engineer, Samuel J. Bunker, and two women, Mrs. Ada L. Cram and Miss Mary Kane, while several other persons were quite severely injured. The fly-wheel was thirty feet in diameter, weighed 68 tons, and furnished power through three belts for Mills Nos. 4, 5, 7 and 8.

From the investigation that followed no blame was attached to the engineer or the Company. The former had been in the employ of the mills for ten years, and was highly esteemed by his companions and the officials. The following report of the coroner’s jury explains more fully the situation:

Verdict of the Coroner’s Jury, appointed to inquire into
the cause of the explosion of the thirty-foot fly-wheel
of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company’s
Mills, October 15, 1891. State of
New Hampshire.

Hillsborough ss.:

An inquisition taken at Manchester in said county, the 15th day of October, 1891, before Harrison D. Lord, one of the coroners of said county, upon view of the bodies of Samuel J. Bunker, Ada L. Cram and Mary Kane, there lying dead, by the oaths of Jacob F. James, a justice of the peace for the said state, and of Nehemiah S. Bean and James P. Tuttle, who, being sworn and charged to inquire for the state, when how, and by what means, the said Samuel J. Bunker, Ada L. Cram, and Mary Kane came to their deaths, upon their oaths do say that said deceased came to their deaths on the 15th day of October, 1891, from injuries caused by the explosion of a thirty-foot fly-wheel when in operation in the engine room located upon the premises of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in said Manchester, between No. 4 and 5 mills, so called, and near the east end of the bridge leading across the Merrimack river to the boiler houses of said company.

Careful and thorough examinations were made of the condition and location of the fragments of the exploded fly-wheel, the engines by which it was driven, the guages [sic] registering the pressure of the steam for its engines, the wheel pit in which it was driven, and the jack-pulleys and shafts to which it transmitted power. An extended examination of witnesses was made to learn the condition on the day of the explosion of the power and speed of the machinery belted from the jack-shafts both to the north and to the south, or in the mills of Nos. 7 and 8 above, and the Canal building, so called; and Nos. 4 and 5 below the engine room.

The opinions of men qualified by long study and experience, and eminent in their several callings, were taken.

Reliable tests of the tensile strength of both the fly-wheel and jack-pulleys were caused to be made.

Repeated experiments were made to determine the highest speed at which is was possible to run the looms in No. 7 mill.

The Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. of Manchester, New Hampshire: a history, pages 143-144