Westport, IN (near) Tugboat CONVOY Explosion, July 1888



Louisville, Ky., July 20. -- The explosion of the steam pipe that supplied the engine from the boiler caused the death of seven men of the crew of the tugboat Convoy at 1:30 o'clock this morning. The explosion occurred twenty miles up the river from Westport, Ind. Most of the men were asleep at the time.
The following were the victims:
WILLIAM PAGE, about 35 years old, residence unknown.
W. L. HARRIGAN, 16 years old, Sebo, Pa.
ROBERT JONES, about 35 years old, married, Jack's Run, Pa.
WILLIAM BIGLEY, 62 years old, married, Allegheny City, Pa.
CHARLES LANDER, 29 years of age, Jack's Run, Pa.
GEORGE McCANN, 16 years old, Pittsburgh.
WILLIAM KELLEY, about 25 years old, residence unknown.
When the boat reached Westport, everything, according to the first mate's story, was running smoothly. He took a walk back to the cabin and found all quiet. He stopped and talked to his friend GEORGE McCANN, who was lying on a lower berth near the door. The latter half rose in his bed and remarked: "I'll soon be at home with my family." Then he laid down and went to sleep.
The mate returned to the pilot house and was conversing with Captain Reno, the pilot.
Suddenly there was a terrific explosion, the whole boat became enveloped in steam and the machinery stopped. The captain called his men and the boat was towed ashore and made fast. WILLIAM PAGE was found dead near the door of the after cabin, where the explosion occurred. The blood was rushing from his mouth and nose and the flesh was scalded off his body. WILLIAM HARRIGAN was found in his berth. His death must have been instantaneous, for he lay in the same position as when he retired. ROBERT JONES was on the floor. He was horribly burned and lived but fifteen minutes. He died with his wife's name on his lips. WILLIAM BIGLEY was still alive when found, but died in ten minutes. CHARLES LANDER was found outside of the cabin, lying on his face. He was not dead and told them that he had to run out there as soon as he could recover from the shock of the explosion.
He was almost baked, his skin was parched and little jets of blood stood out from the pores of his body. In two hours he was dead. GEORGE McCANN, lay dead in exactly the same position he was in when the first mate left him but half an hour before. KELLEY was pulled out from under his bunk and was alive, but he was also terribly burned.
Charles Chambers, the other man who slept in the cabin, was blown out of the door and had a miraculous escape.
The officers of the boat can give no explanation of the accident and claim the machinery was inspected last February and was then in excellent condition. An inquest will be held this afternoon.

Iola Register Kansas 1888-07-27