Marion, SC Explosion Of The Steamer MARION, Apr 1882



Marion, S. C., April 29. -- Full particulars of the fearful steamboat explosion which occurred on the Wateree River yesterday have just been received here. The steamer MARION was employed by the Government in removing obstructions from the river, and for several months past has been running up and down that stream. Its officers have become quite popular with the people living along its banks. During the Spring the boat has been used by excursion parties of ladies and gentlemen. Yesterday the Captain, at the request of a number of ladies and gentlemen of Richland County, agreed to take a party of about 30 ladies and 20 gentlemen down the Wateree for a little pleasure trip. The party embarked early yesterday. In addition to the pleasure seekers, the crew numbered 10 persons, making the number on board about 60. About 11 o'clock, when midway the stream and while proceeding at the rate of about eight miles an hour, the boiler of the boat exploded with a fearful crash. At the time the whole party of ladies and gentlemen was on deck and just above the boiler. When the smoke cleared away a scene of terrible suffering was presented. Men and women were bleeding and dying upon the torn wreck of the boat. Several had been thrown to the upper end of the hurricane deck and buried beneath the planks of the wreck. Others were caught under heavy timbers, and there kept imprisoned until they could be relieved. The fearful jar of the explosion threw the steamer over on her side, upsetting and jarring those who were not seriously disabled, so that for a time they could not render their wounded companioins any assistance. As soon as they could extricate themselves from their disagreeable situation they went manfully to work to assist those who were buried beneath the timbers. The boat was headed for the shore, and before she sank was run into shallow water. Several of the party were blown into the river and had to swim for their lives. The force of the explosion blew off the whole upper deck. But for the prompt and brave efforts of the Captain and his crew, assisted by such of the male passengers as were not disabled, the loss of life would have been greatly increased.
One of the saddest features of the accident was the extermination of a whole family -- the MISSES HENRY, four accomplished and beautiful sisters, who were greatly beloved in the community in which they lived. These ladies at the time of the explosion were standing on deck, immediately over the engine-room, engaged in a lively chat with some of their friends. The full force of the terrible crash spent itself upon these unfortunate victims. MISS ALICE was killed almost instantly. The eldest sister, MISS MINNIE, was hurled 15 or 20 feet and fell into the water. She was one of the first to be picked up and carried on shore. The third sister was fearfully crushed and mangled, almost every bone in her body was broken. She lived for a short time after she was found. The fourth sister was probably scalded to death; she also lived a short time after the accident. ARNOLD STILES, a young man who belonged to the excursion party, was terribly mangled. One of his arms was crushed and almost torn from his body. He was killed almost instantly. JAMES JACOBS and HIRAM TOLER, two boatmen who were standing hear the gangway at the time of the accident, were also killed. The total number of persons killed or who are believed to be fatally injured is 11. Several whose injuries are not regarded as fatal are dangerously hurt and doubts are entertained about their recovery. As soon as information reached Columbia of the accident, a relief party was sent to the scene. A Coroner's jury to-day rendered a verdict acquitting the boat's crew of any blame in the matter.

The New York Times New York 1882-04-30