Marion, OH Brewery Boiler Explosion, May 1897

A MIRACLE OF FATE

WAS THE ESCAPE OF TWO MACHINISTS FROM FATAL INJURIES

A Peculiar Boiler Accident Occurs at the Brewery Sunday Morning--A Large Boiler Gives Way and Considerable Damage to Property Is Done.

Sunday morning at 10 o'clock residents of the southwest quarter of the city were startled by a loud crash, followed by the roar of escaping steam, coming from the Marion Brewing and Bottling company's plant on Bellefontaine avenue. A STAR reporter was quickly on the scene, with many others, and discovered that there had been a peculiar boiler accident that come near costing the lives of two men.

Geo. Taylor, superintendent of the Marion Supply and Oil company, and George Neely, of the Huber works, may well thank their lucks[sic] stars that they are alive today. Taylor, acting for his company, and assisted by Neely, was engaged in repairing the big boilers at the brewery when the accident happened. The two boilers are necessarily very large and reach within a few feet of the high ceiling of the large boiler room. In the north boiler there was a head of steam at the time of about 90 pounds pressure, while the south boiler was cold. The main steam pipes of the boilers are connected together so that either or both may be used.

Taylor and Neely were on top of the boilers and were about through with their work when the crash came. The anchors under the rear end of the south boiler suddenly gave way, precipitating that boiler down about two feet. This snapped the main steam pipe in two and allowed the full head of steam from the live boiler to escape. How Taylor and Neely ever managed to get out of there is a mystery that they are themselves unable to explain. It is one of the miracles of fate. One would have thought that they would have been roasted alive before they could get away. A piece of the elbow of the pipe as big as a crock was blown out.

Superintendent Taylor says he just jumped and got out, but knows not how. The distance from the top of the brick boiler wall to the floor is ten or twelve feet. Mr. Taylor managed to get out of the boiler room, but injured one of his ankles in jumping, was badly bruised and burned, especially about the arms, and was blackened with dust from head to foot.

Mr. Neely tried to clamber down the side of the boiler wall on a ladder, but the ladder turned with him and he fell. One of his legs became entangled between a pipe and the wall and he was almost overcome before he could extricate himself. When he got loose he crawled on his hands and knees across in front of the boilers to the door of the engine room and escaped. He was black with dust, somewhat scorched and his arms were badly skinned and bruised.

No fault can possibly be attached to anyone connected with the brewery. The accident was entirely due to the faulty construction of the boiler foundation, which gave way. The boilers were built and placed by the Mansfield Machine works, and they are being severely censured by the brewery people for such careless construction.

In a sense, the accident was peculiarly a fortunate one. By little less than a miracle no lives were lost, and the brewery will be able to resume operations in a very short time, as both boilers are intact and new connections can soon be made with the boiler still standing, while the other one is being raised to place and being solid.

The Marion Daily Star, Marion, OH 10 May 1897