New York City, NY Steamboat NEW WORLD Explosion, July 1853



The town was startled yesterday morning by the rumor of another shocking catastrophe, which, unfortunately, proved to be only too correct. About 20 minutes to 7 o'clock, as the steamboat New World was at her dock, foot of Chambers Street, on the point of starting for Albany, she collapsed, as it is termed, the lower flue of her larboard boiler. At the time of the accident, the engine was in motion, the engineer and the firemen were at their posts. Fortunately, the passengers, of whom there were about one hundred on board, were, many of them, in the ladies' saloon, while a large number were on the promenade deck. They consequently escaped without serious injury, a slight scalding being the worst that any of them sustained. Of course, the commotion and terror were very great. As described to us by one of the passengers, scarcely had the engines been set in motion when a peculiar hissing sound was heard, so loud and startling that every face was blanched with the consciousness of an impending calamity. In another instant, a cloud of vapor rose above the deck, and filled the boat. The ladies screamed, and the gentlemen made a rush for the gangway; but the doors communicating with the main deck had been closed by order of the Captain -- a provident and timely act, to which, our informant has no doubt, many of the bewildered passengers owe their safety.
The disaster, we regret to say, resulted fatally to several of the hands employed in the engine-room. One of the firemen, named ELI BUELL, who, at the time of the explosion, was standing in front of the boiler, was instantly killed, and seven others engaged in the same capacity were very severely scalded. They were afterwards taken to the City Hospital, where four of them have since died. A waiter named JOHN FOSTER, became so alarmed by the unexpected deluge of the scalding vapor, that he jumped overboard from the forward part of the boat, and, in spite of the exertions made to save him, consistent with the agonizing excitement of the occasion, sank to rise no more.
At the time of the explosion, the gauge exhibited but 28 pounds, so, at least, we were told by one of the engineers. The average pressure carried, we were informed, was about 30 pounds. The cause of the collapsing of the flue is, of course, a matter of mere conjecture, though many of the colliers, engaged in coaling the boat on Thursday evening, say that during the thunder storm, about 8 o'clock, P.M., they felt a violent shock, and heard a rattling in the boiler, occasioning a noise like the discharge of a musket, the lightning flashing very brightly at the time. Whether the electric fluid was discharged upon the boat, and penetrated the flue, it is, of course, impossible to say. We merely state the fact, as related to us by several parties, without hazarding a supposition as to its connection with this melancholy catastrophe. We refer our readers, however, to the testimony on the subject, offered at the Coroner's Inquest, held at the Hospital.
The following, according to the latest account, is a correct list of the killed and injured:
ELI BUELL, fireman, 22 years of age. Resided in Albany.
JOHN FOSTER, second-pantryman, 28 years of age. This poor man, in his fright, jumped into the river and was drowned. He leaves a wife and three children.
JOHN REED, fireman. Died in the Hospital, aged 35.
JOHN DONNELLY, fireman. Died in the Hospital, aged 29.
JAMES PORTER, fireman. Died in the Hospital, aged 26.
JOHN WILEY, (whose real name was JOHN JOSEPH MONKS). Died in the Hospital, aged 24.
JOSEPH FOSDICK, fireman, 30 years of age. Resided in New York. Badly scalded about the arms and body. Condition critical. Now in the Hospital.
EDWARD MARTIN, deck hand, 19 years of age. Lived in New York. Slightly scalded. Will recover. Now in the Hospital.
WASHINGTON HAWS, Chief Engineer, 28 years of age, and native of New York. But slight hopes are entertained of his recovery. Now in the Hospital.

New York Daily Times New York 1853-07-02