Barton-On-The-Sound, NY Powder Explosion, Sep 1886



Barton-on-the-Sound, N.Y., Sept. 30. -- A terrific explosion occurred at the Ditmer Powder Works, Bay Chester, on the Harlem River branch of the New York and New Haven railroad, about ten o'clock this morning, resulting in the instant death of four men employed in the factory. The explosion occurred in a packing house, a one-story frame building, twenty by thirty feet, in the center of the grounds about two hundred yards from the main factory, a large building near the water, where the bulk of giant powder and nitro-glycerine used for the new aqueduct works is manufactured. The men were hard at work putting up and packing cartridges, when suddenly and without warning an explosion occurred, shattering the building to splinters and blowing four men to fragments. The exploding powder of which there was a large quantity, shot up into the air as high as fifty feet, and splinters of the building were blown over a mile distant.
The names of the men killed are as follows:
Nothing was left of them except fragments of their bodies, portions of which were scattered in every direction from five to six hundred feet from the packing house. The foreman of the works says the explosion was caused by two men shooting into the building. He was in the packing house at the time, and going out found two men who said they were shooting squirrels. He says he threatened them with arrest and they then became impudent. As the explosion occurred the men were seen hurrying away. Stansfield, superintendent of the Thorite powder company, near by, picked up a box full of fragments of the dead men, and the remains were all put in a heap to await the arrival of the coroner.
One of the dead men leaves a family in Germany, the others were single. The main factory of the Ditmar works was nearly wrecked, one end being blown to pieces exposing the interior. After the explosion the lower timbers of the building took fire. A large tree near by was taken up by the roots and other trees were blown away. The ground for half a mile was strewn with fragments of the dead, splinters, packing paper, etc. The violence of the explosion shook houses in Barton, across the creek from Green Bay Chester. Many windows in the Bay View Hotel, at Pelham Bridge, over a mile away, were shattered. A blacksmith shop at West Chester was shaken violently and the windows of many houses in the same village were broken. This is the second explosiont hat has occured in these works this year.
The remains of the men today could not possibly be identified. Many persons living miles away hurried to the scene and some of them helped to gather together the fragments of the dead men. The window sashes and doors in the railroad station at Bay Chester, not far from the powder works, were blown to fragments, and the windows of other houses damaged, but no one outside of the factory was hurt.

The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette Iowa 1886-09-30