Pittsburg, PA Towboat JOHN W. AILES Explosion, Feb 1902



Pittsburg, Feb. 5. -- By the explosion of the boilers on the towboat John W. Allen [sic], owned by the Monongahela River Consolidated Coal and Coke Company, near Lock No. 2, at 1:30 this morning one man was killed outright, four probably fatally injured and several are still missing. Six others were rescued from the icy waters.
The dead:
WM. PERRY, deckhand, of Roscoe, Pa., found pinioned under the anchor, with clothing afire.
EDWARD MITCHELL, mate, badly burned and inhaled flames, Merchantville, Pa., will die.
JOHN W. BURKE, pilot.
FLOYD STILL, chief engineer.
MARIA WALKER, negress cook of Pittsburg, leg broken and badly injured about head and body. Rescued from the river.
JAS. WILLIAMS, fireman, leg broken and seriously hurt about head and body.
BOOKER HULL, badly burned.
WM. CAMPBELL, fireman, badly burned.
JOHN COFFIN, watchman, Frederickston, Md.
WEAVER WOLF, deckhand, Middleport, Ohio.
Those rescued were Capt. W. J. SHAW, commander of the boat; JOHN RANKIN, deckhand, Glassport, Pa.; DAVID McBRYDE, deckhand, Middleport, O.; R. WATTS, negro deckhand, Middleport, Ohio; MARIA WALKER and JAMES WILLIAMS.
There was a crew of four, all told, aboard the Allen, including the captain.
The captain with Chief Engineer STILL, Fireman CAMPBELL and Cook MARIA WALKER, had just gone off duty, and the new watch was made up of BURKE, HULL, MITCHELL, WILLIAMS, PERRY and WOLF.
They had passed the Homestead steel works and were nearing the city with seven flats of coal, when one of the boilers let go with a mighty roar and terrific force. The explosion communicated to the other boilers and then all went in the river or into the air.
The boat immediately took fire and burned so rapidly that all who were able were forced to take to the river. In a few minutes the towboat Vulcan was on the scene with a full crew of men and nearly all were rescued. The injured were brought to Pittsburg and seven of them are now at Mercy hospital.
Four of these are reported as being in a dangerous condition. The hospital authorities, however, are unable to give the names.
The Allen was completely destroyed. The loss is placed at $25,000.
The boat was considered one of the best owned by the coal combine and its boilers had been inspected but a few days ago. No one has been able to give an account of the accident or how it occurred. The surviving members of the crew claim that they were not carrying a greater pressure of steam than the government allows.

Des Moines Capital Iowa 1902-02-05


Wreck of the Towboat John W. Ailes

Maria Walker, the cook, and James Williams, fireman, are dangerously injured.

The dead:
William Perry...

The injured are:
Edward Mitchell, mate, aged 23 years, badly burned and inhaled flames
Maria Walker, negress, cook, of Pittsburg, leg broken and badly injured about head and body; rescued from the river
James Williams, fireman, aged 30 years, leg broken and seriously hurt about the head and body
Boeker Null, second engineer, aged 22 years, Beverly, W. Va.

The missing are
John W. Burke, pilot
Glyde Sims, chief engineer
William Campbell, fireman
Weaver Wolf, deck hand, Middleport, O.
John Coffin, watchman of Frederickstown, Md.

These were saved.
Those rescued were Captain W. I. Shaw, commander of the boat; John Rankin, deck hand, Glassport, Pa.; David McBride, deck hand, Middleport, O.; Reuben Watts, negro, deck hand, Middleport, O.; Maria Walker and James Williams.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA 6 Feb 1902

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