Central City, WV Phoenix Powder Mill Explosion, Jan 1892


Terrific and Fatal Explosion at Central City, W. Va.

Six Workmen Killed and a Mill Destroyed.

Dispatches from the cities near Ceredo, W. Va., tell the news of a terrific explosion of the Phoenix Power Mill which was destructive to life. The Phoenix mill is situated at Central City, near Ceredo, and about half way between Huntington, W. Va. and Catlettsburg, Ky. This is the third explosion at this mill within three months and is the most destructive one. How this latest wreck was brought about will never be known, because not a soul that was in the mill is left alive to tell the story.

At half past 8 o'clock in the morning people in Ironton, twenty-five miles away, heard the terrible detonating roar. In Ceredo three miles away, windows were broken and wares in the stores were shaken from the shelves. In Catlettsburg, nearly ten miles away, the earth shook and people were alarmed. Everybody divined the cause and there was a rush from all directions for the scene. The local authorities organized and surrounded the ruins with a cordon of police through which none of the thousands of spectators was permitted to pass.

It has been ascertained that the first explosion was in the glazing-room where there were ten tons of powder. Then, successively, the packing-house, the magazine and the flour-wheel mills, and lastly a carload of gunpowder went hurling in fiery fragments through the air. Not a vestige of the entire plant remains, and the country for half a mile around is strewn with fragments of the buildings and of the bodies of five men, victims of the disaster. It is not known definitely, but at the present writing it is believed that not less than thirty-five tons of powder were burned in the several explosions. Those killed are as follows:
ARCHIE LIVINGSTON, a Scotchman, who had been superintendent of the mills since they started; only a hand was found.

“ED” WINTON, the architect and engineer, who built the works; he was in the magazine when it exploded and strange to say his body was little mutilated.

JOHN BENTON, a workman; body horribly mangled.

JOHN SCHLOSSER and CHARLES SCOTT, workmen, were both terribly mutilated.

All these are either known or supposed to have been in the buildings when the explosion occurred. ROBERT COOK, a glazing-mill hand, was approaching the glazing mill when it blew up. His clothing, hair and whiskers were burned off. He ran two hundred yards to a stream and jumped in. He died at midnight.

K. O. REECE, JAMES ESTEEP and JOHN JUSTIOR, who were in the vicinity when the explosions occurred, were seriously hurt.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1892-01-22