Cold Spring, NY Tunnel Explosion, Jan 1910
FIFTEEN KILLED BY EXPLOSION.
FATAL BLAST IN TUNNEL CAUSES THE CATSKILLS TO TREMBLE.
WORKERS HAVE NO CHANCE.
DEATH, IN TERRIFIC ROAR, IS INSTANTANEOUS -- BODIES BLOWN TO PIECES.
CAUSE OF EXPLOSION MYSTERY.
ONE OF THE MEN BELIEVED TO HAVE FALLEN AGAINST NITRO-GLYCERINE WHILE CARRYING A LIGHTED TORCH.
Fishkill Landing, Jan. 21. -- Fifteen men, three of them Americans, were killed late this afternoon by a premature explosion of nitro-glycerine in a tunnel which is to form part of the great acqueduct which will carry water from the Ashokan dam in the Catskills to New York city. Five were terribly mutilated, but were so near the mouth of the tunnel that they were rescued alive. The other fifteen were found beneath a mass of rock and debris, just a bleeding mass.
The cause of the explosion had not been ascertained tonight, but it is believed that one of the workmen carrying a torch, fell, igniting a fuse and setting off a series of charges of nitro-glycerine, which had been placed preparatory to an exodus from the tunnel.
A squad of twenty men having drilled the holes and placed the explosive, was trooping from the excavation, fifteen in the rear and five, all of them foreigners, in the lead. As the five neared the mouth of the tunnel there was a terrific roar, the countryside shook for a quarter of a mile around and the five foreigners were hurled senseless to the ground near the opening. Inside death was instantaneous to the fifteen.
The contracting firm, R. K. EVERETT & Co., employs 150 men in all, and the premature explosion indicated immediately that there had been a disaster. A hundred laborers rushed to the tunnel's mouth and, after dragging forth the injured, set to work clearing away the rock and earth to get at the dead.
Find Tangled Mass Of Victims.
As the nitro-glycerine had been purposely set to shatter rock, it did not damage the tunnel's interior more than the contractors had planned and after two hours work the bodies were reached. The scene was such as to preclude the possiblity of identification, except by a roll call of the firm's employes, and the list of dead had not been announced tonight.
There were exactly twenty men in the squad, however, the five wounded are accounted for and although the tangled mass of humanity was so grewsome as to make the counting of the bodies almost impossible, it is certain that the number of dead will not exceed fifteen. Besides the three Americans, there are among the victims Italians, Hungarians and negroes.
The scene of the accident was near the top of a small mountain, a mile and a half southeast of Cold Spring, a town of 1,500 inhabitants, eight miles north of this place. In digging the aqueduct solid rock was encountered on the mountain and it was found necessary to bore a tunnel nine hundred feet long. Five hundred feet had been completed and the nitro-glycerine had been set in the rear, ready for explosion after the men had left. Its premature explosion marks the first serious accident on any work connected with the aqueduct.
Fishkill Landing is one the East bank of the Hudson, directly opposite Newburg, about fifty miles north of New York City.
The Post-Standard Syracuse New York 1910-01-22