Joliet, IL Furnace Collapse, Dec 1890

Half a Score of Men Perish Terribly.

Buried Under a Crumbling Furnace at Joliet, Ill.

The blast furnace known as No. 2, a part of the Joliet (Ill.) Steel Company's plant, gave way at noon the other day and fell to the ground while twenty men were at work upon it. Nine men were killed. Their names are as follows:
STANS FASMECK, top filler: NELLS LARSON, bottom filler: THEODORE LARSON, bottom filler: GUS LOOSE, cager: FRANK MILLER, bottom filler: JOHN PETERSON, rigger: THOMAS SWANSON, rigger: JOHN UMLUSTADIS, bottom filler.

Late that night the body of an unknown man was found.

Those fatally injured are:
AUGUST DIREMER, chest crushed: PATRICK KILCULLEN, leg crushed: U. LIND, badly crushed: OSCAR WENBERG, hurt about the head.
Five others were seriously hurt. The cause of the accident was the giving way of the columns which support the furnace and the consequent collapse of the great two hundred ton retort.

The blast had been blown out and the men were at work on the inside taking out the brick lining preparatory to relining it when the crash came. Thousands of men, women and children rushed to the scene as soon as the disaster became known, and the police had hard work keeping the people back while the rescuers were at work.

When the furnace collapsed there were eleven men on the inside, six at the bottom and five on top. The furnace carried with it the blowpipes and roof of the casting shed and buried itself in the earth so deeply that the work of rescue was exceedingly difficult.

Hundreds of men offered their services and the work began at once. Superintendent PETTIGREW directing the workers. Several physicians were on hand promptly, but left in a few moments for the hospital upon learning that there was little hope for the men who had been working upon the inside of the retort.

One man, who had been working on top, was carried down, but the others were thrown off when the fall came and thus escaped instant death. Of the nine wounded four were working on the outside and were struck by flying places of iron.

All the wounded were promptly carried to the hospital and everything possible done for them. Hundreds of women and children – relatives and friends of the victims – crowded around the hospital and clamered[sic] for admittance with the most pitiful appeals.

In the meantime the work of rescuing the bodies from the wrecked retort was going on, but owing to the manner in which the iron casing was crushed and bent it was difficult to get at the bodies. Finally an entrance was effected and during the afternoon and four corpses were reached. All were horribly crushed and mangled, some of them beyond recognition.
Great masses of brick and iron had fallen upon them, and death must have been instantaneous. Later in the evening the rescuers succeeded in getting out another body.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1890-12-12