Philadelphia, PA Meat Packing Plant Explosion, Nov 1861


A terrific explosion occurred at the extensive meat-packing establishment of MR. JACOB ALBURGER, at the corner of Sixth and Reed streets, about quarter before 11 o'clock on Friday night, caused by the bursting of a large sheet-iron tank, used for boiling bones. Some idea of the force of the explosion can be formed when the tank, which weights about two thousand pounds, ascended into the air through the roof of the building, and was carried a distance of about six hundred feet, and brought up in the yard attached to the dwelling of MR. WM. TILLER, on Fifth street, above Reed. In its career it demolished the roof of MR. ALBURGER'S establishment, knocked down a portion of a brick wall, completely destroyed a fence in MR. TILLER'S yard, and also partially destroyed an outhouse. The bottom of the tank was left in its original place. There was a considerable quantity of fat in the tank at the time of the explosion, and as the vessel went in one direction the hot fat was scattered in another. Fortunately the workmen were not engaged in the building at the time, or the loss of life would doubtless have been frightful. There were but three men present. These were JACOB SIGMUND, the watchman; JOHN BROWN, the engineer, and CHRISTIAN SIEGEL, a butcher. They were all within a few feet of the tank. BROWN was in a stooping posture, and escaped injury, but the other two were scalded by the boiling fat. SIGMUND is quite severely wounded, and requires the attendance of two physicians. The engineer is unable to account for the accident. He says that the pressure of steam was not greater than usual. The report of the explosion was heard for miles, and the concussion was felt for squares in the vicinity of the establishment. The damage resulting from the disaster is estimated at about $2,000.

Philadelphia Press Pennsylvania 1861-11-25