Canadian Reach, AR Steamer CAR OF COMMERCE Explosion, May 1828


The accident to which we now refer, took place on the Mississippi river, at a place called the Canadian Reach, on the 14th day of May, 1828. We are informed that the force-pump was out of order, and did not supply the boilers with water. The engineer stopped the machinery, and made an effort to put the pump in good working order. The machinery was again put in motion, but scarcely had the wheels made three revolutions when the cast-iron head of one of the boilers was blown out. Such was the jar or concussion produced by this accident, that all the boilers, four in number, were dislodged and thrown with great violence on the deck. More than thirty persons were killed, and ten or twelve others were scalded or otherwise badly injured. In the report of this accident, made by the officers of the boat, the names of the persons killed or wounded are not given.

Lloyd's Steamboat Directory and Disasters on the Western Waters, Cincinnati, Ohio; James T. Lloyd & Co, 1856, page 117


Louisville, May 20.


The Car of Commerce, commanded by Capt. J. Cock, and owned by Messrs. Walter Cock and Hardin, of this place, burst her boiler about 10 o'clock on Wednesday last, at the 14th inst. in the Canadian reach, Mississippi, about 130 miles below the mouth of the Ohio. She had taken in wood about three miles below, and while running under a high pressure of the steam, the force pump was discovered to be out of order. The engine was stopped, a minute or two, while the pump was righted, without blowing off the steam; and when the engine was started again, about the third stroke, the stern head of the middle boiler gave way and drove the boilers forward, with the end down on the bow. The stern end being thus elevated, sent the contents of the boilers backwards on the upper deck, carrying all before them, and producing terrible havoc among the deck passengers. Nearly fifty persons were injured; of whom a few were killed at the instant. The whole number known to be lost, by the latest accounts from the boat, was between 15 and 20 -- and many other were so severely injured, that there was no hope of their recovery. The whole loss of lives it is supposed will be upwards of twenty. Most of this destruction was caused by scalding. The sufferers who were not instantly killed were in a most deplorable condition. The captain escaped unhurt. One of the pilots was slightly injured. Both the engineers were dead, and nearly all the rest of the persons belonging to the boat. Only one of the cabin passengers was injured, and he is dead. The damage to the boat herself was much less than might be expected from the terrible destruction among the people on board.-- We have received this information from several intelligent gentlemen who were passengers, and others who have since passed the boat. The passengers, arrived here, speak in high terms of the good conduct of Capt. Cock on this trying occasion.

Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser, Baltimore, MD 31 May 1828