New York, NY Ferryboat RICHMOND Boiler Explosion and Panic, Jul 1906


Pipe Bursts, Scalding Badly Four Men in Boiler Room.


Strenuous Work by Deckhands Calms Screaming Men and Women Among 1,500 Passengers

Four men were scalded yesterday morning by an explosion of a steam pipe in the boiler room of the municipal ferryboat Richmond just as she had started out of her slip a the Battery. There were 1,500 passengers aboard the boat, mostly women and children, and for a time after the explosion there was a panic among them, some of the women screaming and running about the deck hunting for life preservers. The crew by strenuous effort succeeded finally in calming them, and all were landed safely. Some of the men passengers, wild eyed and yelling, added to the terror of the women and children by their actions. A little rough handling brought them around.

Three of the injured men were sent to their homes after their wounds had been dressed. Joseph Dugan, a fireman, of Corona, L. I., was so severely scalded that he was taken to the Hudson Street Hospital. There he was said to be in a critical condition. He is believed to have inhaled some of the scalding steam. He was also scalded about the face, neck, chest and arms.

The others, who were scalded on the arms, were James Banning, a water tender of Staten Island; William Ashley, a fireman, of 554 West 132 Street, Manhattan, and Michael Lysaght, a fireman, of 535 East Eighty-first Street, Manhattan.

The Richmond, in command of Capt. William Cole, had started on her 11:40 trip for Staten Island and was half way out of her slip when there was a muffled explosion forward, steam pouring out of the ventilators. Engineer Jonathan Wilson was in the engine room. A joint in one of the eight-inch main steam pipes leading from the forward boilers to the engine room had blown out. Following the explosion the hissing of escaping steam was heard in all parts of the big ferryboat. Clouds of steam filled the team gangways and boiler rooms, and worked their way up to the main deck also carried off vast volumes of steam with a loud hissing noise.

Capt. Cole and Pilot Turner both heard the explosion. Capt. Cole, unaware of how serious the damage was to his boat, signaled to go astern at full speed, and at the same time sounded "Quarters" on the alarm gongs all over the big craft.