Philadelphia, PA Steamer CITY OF TRENTON Boiler Explosion, Aug 1901 - Eleven Deaths


Eleven Deaths In Delaware River Disaster, Near Philadelphia.


Boilers Did Not Carry the Amount of Steam Allowed By Law - Police Boats and Launches Still Looking For More Victims.

Philadelphia, Aug 29 - While the steamboat City of Trenton, of the Willmington Steamboat company, was on her way from this city to Trenton, N.J., yesterday afternoon her port boiler exploded, killing 11 people and injuring over a score of others. Four passengers are missing, but as many, sustained slight injuries it is thought the missing may be among those who did not find it necessary to go to the hospital. The dead are:

Miss Elizabeth Green, Philadelphia.
J. D. Crew, assistant engineer.
Arthur Lansing, Trenton.
James O'Connell, fireman.
Matt Mable, fireman.
August Mable, deck hand.
Five passengers names unknown.

After the explosion the boat took fire and ran aground. Last night she lay a wrecked and blackened hulk in the marshes opposite Torresdale, 15 miles above this city. Her hold is filled with water, and it is feared that more of her passengers and crew may be found in the bottom of the boat when the water is pumped out.

Chief Engineer Murphy, who was on watch when the accident happened, reported to the officials in this city last night that the port boiler (which was the one that exploded) carried only 150 pounds of steam. Murphy, along with an oiler named Bryson, had just left the boiler room when the explosion occurred and both are positive that the boiler did not carry the limit of steam allowed by the law.

The Coty of Trenton makes daily trips between Philadelphia and Trenton, stopping at Burlington, N. J.; Bristol, Pa., and other points on the way. She left the company's wharf at 1:45 o'clock yesterday afternoon, 15 minutes behind her schedule time. Her passenger list was lighter than usual, and she carried very little freight. The vessel was in charge by Captain W. A. Worrell.

Nothing of moment occurred until the boat reached Torresdale, at point opposite what is known as the Harrison mansion, a spacious building fronting the Delaware river at this suburban resort, the steam pipe connecting with the port boiler burst with a loud report. The forward portion of the uppper {sic} deck was well filled with passengers, while many others were in the cabin. Before any of the passengers or employes{sic} had an opportunity of seeking places of safety another explosion occurred, and this time the port boiler was rent in wain. Scalding steam and water poured into the cabin and sections of the woodwork of the boat were torn away by the force of the explosion. Those of the passengers who were not seamed and scarred by the scalding steam and boiling water were stuck by the flying portions of the splintered cabin. Legs and arms were broken and faces and bodies were parboiled. The screams of the inured {sic}{ could be heard on shore, and the cries of those who leaped and were blown into the river were heartrending. So great was the force of the explosion that a piano in the upper drawing room of the boat was hurled many fee away from the boat into the river. This proved a fortunate circumstances for many of the inured passengers. Thrown into the water, scalded and otherwise injured, so that they were rendered helpless, they clung to the piano, which fallen into shallow water, until rescued.

When the explosion occurred Mate Vanderveer and Pilot Curry were in the pilot house. Both were hurled with terrific force from the little enclosure, and the wheel on the starboard side refusal to work, while that on the port side for some unaccountable reason began revolving with lightning like rapidity. As a result of this rudder turned the bow of the boat towards shore, and she quickly ran aground, fastening herself in the mud.

By this time the vessel had caught fire and, those of the passengers who were still aboard were compelled to leap for their lives.

Fortunately the water was not more than four feet deep, and many of the victims of the disaster were able to wade ashore. Some, however, who were too seriously injured to help themselves, were rescued by members of the boat clubs, whose houses line the river front at this point. The captain and crew of the boat conducted themselves as heroes. They rendered all the assistance possible to the injured, and Captain Worrell was the last man to leave the boat.

The News, Frederick, MD 29 Aug 1901