Hermann, MO Steamer BIG HATCHEE Explosion, July 1845


It becomes our painful duty (says the St. Louis Reveille of the 25th ult.) to record one of the most serious disasters that has occurred upon our waters since the explosion of the steamer "Etna." The steamer BIG HATCHEE, CAPT. FRISBEE, which left St. Louis on the 20th instant for the Missouri River, with some forty passengers on board, on leaving the landing at Hermann, about 1 o'clock A. M., on the 23rd instant, on her way to St. Joseph's burst her starboard boiler with a loud explosion, which forced it strait forward overboard, the steam discharging itself aloft, carrying away the main deck as far aft as the ladies cabin, making a perfect wreck of the boat, and spreading death and desolation among the passengers.
The explosion scalded some twenty or thirty persons; five or six were killed; among the number was MR. LAWRENCE HAYLE, of St. Louis, and the first and second engineers of the boat; the third engineer, a son of Mr. Laidlaw, of St. Louis, was badly scalded.
There were but a small number of passengers in the cabin, but they numbered between forty and fifty on deck, and fortunately for them it was that the engine-room was filled with lumber, which prevented the steam and water from reaching as far back and doing the mischief it would otherwise have done. The number killed and missing cannot be correctly ascertained, as the passenger book, in which the names of those on deck were registered, was lost. There were a number of ladies on board, none of whom were seriously injured. At the time of the accident nearly all the passengers were in their berths, it being about 1 o'clock A.M. From this fortunate circumstance, many, no doubt, escaped being hurried into eternity. Shortly after the explosion, the steamer Wapello passed down; she stopped and rendered every assistance in her power to the sufferers. The boat had floated down the river some distance; the Wapello towed her back to Hermann, where the unfortunate persons injured will doubtless receive every attention. No cause has been assigned for this terrible disaster.

The Spirit of Democracy Woodsfield Ohio 1845-08-16