Carrolton, LA Steamer ANGLO NORMAN Explodes, Dec 1850 - Explosion

Explosion of the Anglo Norman Dec 1850


The new and beautiful steamer Anglo Norman, left New Orleans December 14, 1850, on an experimental trip, having on board a large " pleasure party," consisting of two hundred and ten persons. She proceeded in an admirable style some distance up the river, satisfying all on board that she was a first-rate sailer, and giving promise of a brilliant career in the future ; but having tacked and directed her course back to the city, all her boilers exploded at the same moment, shattering a considerable part of the boat, and killing and wounding nearly half the people on board.

Mr. H. A. Kidd, editor of the New Orleans Crescent, was one of the excursionists, and was reported among the killed ; but be lived to give a graphic account of his miraculous escape from death, which account he somewhat eccentrically entitled "The Experience of a Blown-up Man." Mr. Kidd says :
"Mr. Bigny, one of the editors of the Delta, and myself, took the only two chairs remaining unoccupied on the deck; his chair having the back towards the pilot-house, and mine with its back to the chimney. It will be seen at once that we had seated ourselves immediately over the monster boilers of the boat.

We had been engaged in conversation but a very few moments, when a jet of hot water, accompanied with steam, was forced out of the main pipe just aft the chimney, and fell near us in a considerable shower. I had never noticed anything of the kind before, and thought the occurrence very extraordinary. Just as I was about remarking this to Mr. Bigny, I was suddenly lifted high in the air, how high it is impossible for me to say. I have a distinct recollection of passing rather irregularly through the air, enveloped, as it seemed to me, in a dense cloud, through which no object was discernible. There was a sufficient lapse of time for me to have a distinct impression on my mind that I must inevitably be lost. In what position I went into the water, and to what depth I went, I have not the slightest idea. When I arose to the surface, I wiped the water from my face, and attempted to obtain a view of things around me, but this I was prevented from doing by the vapor of steam, which enveloped everything as a cloud. This obscuration, however, lasted but for a short time, and when it had passed away, I had a clear conception of my situation. I found myself in possession of my senses, and my limbs in good working order. I looked around in every direction, and discovered that I was not far from the centre of the river, and in the neighborhood of some twenty or thirty people, who seemed to have been thrown into the water somewhat in a heap. They were sustaining themselves on the surface as best they could, many of them endeavoring to get possession of floating pieces of the wreck. I could see nothing of the exploded boat, and was fully satisfied in my mind that she was blown all to pieces, and that all my fellow passengers were lost, except those who, like myself, were struggling in the water. I will do myself the simple justice to say that, from the time at which I had risen to the surface, I bad no apprehensions of drowning, though to a more disinterested spectator the chances might have appeared to be against me. I never felt more buoyant, nor swam with greater ease. Still I thought it well enough to appropriate whatever aid was within my reach ; so, like others, I began a race, which proved to be a tedious one, after a shattered piece of plank. I finally reached it, and putting my hands rather rudely upon it, I got a sousing for my pains. The piece was too small to render me any material service. I abandoned it, and turned in the direction of a steamboat, which I perceived advancing, and which I afterwards discovered to be the Naniopa. To keep my face towards the approaching steamer, I found that I had to oppose the strong current of the river. This, together with the coldness of the water, so exhausted my physical energies, that, for a brief space, I felt that I should not be able to keep afloat until the boat should reach me. As the steamer came near, there was a cry from my unfortunate neighbors in the water, 'Stop the boat ! stop the boat!'