Pittsburg, PA Towboat IRON CITY Explosion, Dec 1885



Pittsburg, Pa., Dec. 2, -- At 2:20 a.m. the boilers of the towboat Iron City, that had grounded on a bar at the head of Herr's Island, Allegheny River, about 6 o'clock last evening, exploded with terrific force. The shock was felt and the sound heard for a great distance, causing great excitement.
The boat took fire immediately after the explosion and burned to the water's edge. The entire crew, six in number, were on the boat at the time, four of whom were asleep. The engineer and fireman were hard at work trying to get the boat off the bar, and the engines were being tested to their fullest capacity when the explosion occurred. All the crew were thrown into the river, sustaining severe injuries, but miraculously escaped drowning.
JAMES OMSLAER, the owner, is severely injured.
ROBERT JACKSON, fireman, badly bruised and scalded.
JOSEPH RICHARDSON, badly bruised.
ex-Councilman SMITH WALKER, severely cut and scalded.
WILLIAM WENTLY, leg broken.
The engineer, name not known, was found on Herr's Island very severely injured. It is thought all will recover. The boat was valued at $15,000 and is a total loss.
Further investigation as to the cause of the accident to the towboat Iron City, this morning, discloses the fact that natural gas was the prime cause of the explosion. The boat, it appears, had gone aground immediately over the main pipe of the Philadelphia Natural Gas Company. The surging and twisting of the boat trying to get off, snapped the gas line in twain. The gas, rushing up all around the boat, isnited from the furnace fire and exploded with a fearful detonation, setting fire to the boat, which was entirely consumed. All the injured will recover.

Biddeford Journal Maine 1885-12-03

History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania 1889 Read it online

Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania : personal and genealogical, with portraits Read it online

History of Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania 1886 Read it online

Allegheny County : a sesqui-centennial review 1938 Read it online

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