Orono, ME Paper Mill Explosion, Oct 1892



Orono, Me., Oct. 11.---Two large digesters in the Bangor Pulp and Paper Company's mill exploded this morning at 7:30 o'clock, causing the loss of three lives and the injury, more or less seriously, of six persons. The explosion was without apparent cause, as the digesters were inspected two weeks ago and repeated to be in perfect condition.


RICHARD SEINAGERMAN, single, head and one foot blown off.
WILLIAM EDDY, single, scalded and both legs broken.
WALTER SMITH, who had charge of the digesters, was taken out alive, but died soon afterward.


Edward FARRELL of Orono.
William CROSBY of Bradley.
Austin WHITMORE of Orono, leg and hip broken and may die.
William BUCHANAN, seriously wounded.

The people of the town and passengers on the train on the Maine Central were startled by one, and some say two, terrific explosions. At that time there were, according to the pay roll, 155 men at work. The plant produces pulp in one mill and paper in another. In the former mill were three great digesters used in cooking the pulp. Each was 9 by 27 feet, made of phosphorus of eighty pounds to the inch, and all were full of steam and cooking pulp.

The buildings on the plant occupied several acres, and about the yard were railroad tracks and large quantities of pulp wood. Some of the buildings were 100 or more feet in length and were destroyed, and huge pieces of the metal were hurled in all directions.

The men were covered at once with steam and the white pulp, and a panic ensued. The Fire Department of Orono hurried to the scene, and the townspeople with fear and doubt followed.

All the machinery except that in the paper mill was destroyed. All that is left of the pulp mill is the boiler house, the roof of which is gone, the acid tower, and the wood room. One piece of iron, weighing one ton, was hurled 100 feet. The top of one of the digesters was sent one-quarter of a mile, and fell on Walker & Sons' boom of logs, cutting the boom. This iron is estimated to weigh three tons. The digester metal was 1¼ inches in diameter. Two steel beams, 30 feet long, were shot 200 feet.

The great marvel of it all is that fifty-six persons were not killed. Some iron was hurled across the Penobscot River.

The paper mill was new and was first started last Thursday with two machines. President Rice said the pulp mill last year paid between $60,000 and $70,000 profit. The stock is largely owned in Boston and Springfield, Mass., with a little in Orono.

The New York Times, New York, NY 12 Oct 1892