Chicago, IL Disastrous Boiler Explosion, Jan 1890



Chicago, Jan. 12. -- A terrific explosion occurred Friday evening in the basement of the John Morris Stationery and Printing Company, Nos. 118 and 120 Monroe Street, causing many thousands of dollars damage, but no loss of life, though several of the small army of employees were seriously and many slightly hurt.
About 4 o'clock, while everybody was at work, a low rumble was heard, followed by a rush of air and a rain of glass. Engineer CHARLES WILSON says that he had just "coaled up" and that the boilers were carrying their usual pressure -- about seventy pounds of steam. The water gauges were full and the action of the engine perfect. MR. WILSON was oiling the pumps two yards from the boilers. He was cut in the forehead and the back of the head, and his hands were terribly scalded, but the doctor who attended him said that no serious results would probably follow.
GEORGE BURGESS, a teamster, was dangerously, perhaps fatally, hurt. His team and wagon were standing in the alley directly in front of the boilers, and when the explosion occurred he was in his wagon. The wagon was flung against the wall across the alley, one horse was knocked down, cut with glass, and scalded, and BURGESS was thrown through an open doorway into the building opposite. He was scalded and cut by flying debris and may not recover.
Many other employees were knocked down and bruised or cut by flying glass, and one or two were scalded, but none seriously.
Scarcely a whole pane of glass remained in the building. On the first floor was a sawdust of glass. It seemed to be powdered, yet of all the score or more of show cases only two glasses were broken and something had apparently fallen on them. The concussion that shivered plate glass half an inch thick did not hurt the more fragile glass in the cases.
The damage to the boilers and engine, if they are wholly destroyed, will reach $10,000, and the damage to stock will add another $5,000. The building can be repaired for $1,000. The building and stock were insured.
Several stores abutting on the alley to the rear were considerably damaged, all the plate glass being broken and the sharp fragments being driven into goods. Damages of this kind are about $5,000.

Logansport Journal Indiana 1890-01-12