Chicago, IL Steamer TIOGA Explodes, July 1890

A DEADLY BURST -- AWFUL EXPLOSION ON THE LAKE STEAMER TIOGA.

TWELVE OR FIFTEEN MEN KILLED.

SEVERAL OF THE CORPSES RECOVERED TERRIBLY MANGLED AND BURNED -- A NUMBER OF INJURED FEARFULLY MUTILATED -- LIST OF THE UNFORTUNATES AS FAR AS KNOWN -- COAL OIL GAS THE SUPPOSED CAUSE.

Chicago, July 12. -- The steamer TIOGA, of the Erie Transportation company, was badly wrecked by an explosion at 7:45 o'clock last evening, while lying at her dock at Randolph street and the river. It is reported that thirteen people were killed. The explosion was a terrible one, and a column of smoke shot 200 feet into the air, succeeded a second later by a whirlwind of flame, which illuminated bridges, buildings, water and spars in a fearful glare. The startled crowds rushed to the river banks, docks, and bridges and soon the scene was througed with an immense crowd.

The Fire Department At Work.
A general fire alarm had been turned it, and soon fifty streams of water from the steamers and fire tugs were pouring into the hold of the big iron boat through the gaping hole amidship, from which the flames poured in a torrent. The TIOGA, which was one of the largest and finest propellors on the lakes, is badly wrecked, her upper works being nearly blown away, and her wooden work being badly burned. At 10 o'clock the fire was so far under control that the search for the victims of the explosion was begun.

Blackened And Mangled Corpses.
Three bodies were soon brought out, blackened and mangled. They were apparently the remains of unfortunate members of the steamer's crew, caught aboard at the time of the explosion. When the explosion occurred there were between ten and fifteen men in the fantail of the boat, which scores of others were forward. There were also several stevadores on the dock and in the warehouses. Bridgetender GAYNOR, at the Randolph street bridge, less than 100 feet away saw a man whirling upward into the air in the midst of a tremendous mass of blazing wreckage. The poor fellow fell into the river, but was rescued unconsciious and cared for. The explosion did much damage to surrounding buildings and windows were broken nearly half a mile away.

Not Less Than Fifteen Victims.
Up to midnight seven dead and wounded men had been taken from the boat, and it was then believed that no more than eight others were in the hold. These men are doubtless dead, as ten fire engines have poured tons of water into the big hole just above the spot where they were at work at the time of the explosion. It will be at least another day before the water can be pumped from the hold and the bodies recovered. There is good reason to believe that the explosion was caused by gas generated from oil barrels which were stored near the fan-tail.

The List Of Casualties.
The following are supposed to have met their death:
WALTER DONRA.
MR. CUTHBERT.
TOM LEWIS.
ALECK SMITH.
HENRY ALEXANDER.
LOUIS ALEXANDER.
JAKE CHURL.
JAMES BROXTON.
WILLIAM DURKES.
CHARLES LEVALLE.
Two Unknown.
LOUIS SCOTT.
JAS. SISSELL.
MR. DICKENSON.
Injured:
WALTER CHAPIN (fatally).
PEMPEY SMITH.
THOMAS COLLINS (fatally).
L. O'DONNELL (fatally).
OSCAR POPE (fatally).
Quite a number of people in the vicinity were injured by the shock or flying debris.
The following injured were taken to the hospital:
THOMAS EMMETT, residence unknown, scalp wound, teeth knocked out, and pieces of lower jaw broken off, terribly burned, probably fatal.
DAVID McNEIL, residence unknown, spine fractured, skull fractured, ribs broken, fatal.
GEORGE HOAG, Buffalo, chin crushed, extensive burns on all parts of the body and limbs, probably fatal.
HARY WITHERSPOON (colored), Chicago, badly burned from the waist up, probably recover.
ROBERT HALLIDAY (colored), Chicago, left arm badly broken, spine injured.
JOHN BURKE, Buffalo, cuts on forehead and left shoulder, very slight burns.

Condition Of The Vessel.
The TIOGA'S fan-tail is completely shattered. Every steel rib and plate is broken and twisted, as if it were so much paper. It was impossible to make an accurate estimate of the damage, owing to the fact that the wrecked stern settled down in the muddy bottom of the river and the machinery compartments were filled with water. Forward of the boilers the boat was comparatively uninjured. CAPT. PHELPS made an examination of the four compartments, which are all separated by steel bulkheads, and found that they were entirely free of water. It is likely that the most of the cargo will escape damage.

Logansport Pharos Indiana 1890-07-12