Eldred, PA Powder Company Explosion, Sep 1950
EIGHT REPORTED KILLED IN ELDRED BLAST.
SEVERAL INJURED AS POWDER PLANT MIX HOUSE DEMOLISHED.
The dead in the Eldred blast were identified at thee o'clock this afternoon by McKean County Coroner Elmer Beatty as:
JAMES SILVES, Eldred.
EUGENE SHEPHERD, Eldred.
HARRY NELSON, Duke Center.
COULEY SHERWOOD, Shinglehouse.
ROBERT WALKER, Duke Center.
CARL FITZGERALD, Duke Center.
CHARLES YORK, Duke Center.
EARL T. LOGUE, Austin.
Eight area men met instant death early this morning when an explosion ripped through a mix house of the National Powder Company near Eldred. Several were reported to have received minor injuries.
Positive identification had not been made this afternoon by McKean County Coroner Elmer Beatty, who was investigating the blast.
The company was not working on government munitions according to T. T. Cooke, company comptroller.
Officials of the company said that the mix house was an isolated corrugated metal building situated about 2,000 yards from the main buildings.
State police at Kane said the explosion occurred at nine thirty five o'clock this morning. Ambulances were ordered from Olean, Portville, Bradford and Kane.
The explosion occurred in a mix house of the plant, which has its buildings spread over a wide section of ground about one and one-half miles north of the McKean County village on Route 6.
Those killed in the blast were at work in the completely demolished building, where dynamite and nitro-glycerine and mixed for explosives used in shooting oil wells and other purposes.
No names had been released by the company this morning and would not be until positive identification had been made and the next of kin had been notified.
Three men are regularly employed in the mix house but company officials stated that men are continually coming and going and they could not definitely state how many were in the building at the time of the explosion.
All who were in the mix house at the time of the blast were instantly killed. There were no serious injuries, other than the dead, but several received minor injuries sustained when hit by flying debris while other suffered mostly from the shock of the explosion.
Considerable property damage was done to other buildings, but no estimate was reached.
The mix house, was surrounded by an earth bank. Force of the explosion was upward and only those buildings nearest the scene of the blast felt the force of the explosion.
Armed guards are patrolling the area.
The explosion was heard in Olean and blew out windows in Main Street and King Street in Eldred, and was heard for miles around the countryside along the Pennsylvania-New York border.
The plants of the powder company are arranged so that an explosion in one building seldom seriously affects any of the other buildings.
The explosion was felt in Police Court on the second floor of police headquarters in Olean.
Robert Arrowsmith, Salamanca, investigator for the district attorney's office, who was in the court room, said a strong gust of wind appeared to blow against the windows of the court room. Mr. Arrowsmith looked outdoors, and was mystified when he saw no strong breeze blowing in the trees.
Several police officers at headquarters said they also heard a jar at the time of the explosion. Olean is about sixteen miles from the scene of the explosion.
A man living on the Dugan Road telephoned the Times Herald after he had heard an explosion and said he thought something had blown up at Pratville.
An explosion in the gelatin packing house at the plant on October 18, 1939, took the life of five men. That explosion rocked homes in all parts of Eldred and the blast was heard as far as Bolivar and Smethport. It was estimated unofficially that some 7,200 pounds of gelatin, an under water explosive blew up in the thirty four square foot packing plant. The building which was set far apart from the rest of the plant, was completely demolished but other parts of the plant were not seriously damaged. Three separate investigations failed to reveal the cause of the blast.
Times Herald Olean New York 1950-09-12