Hickman, KY Steamer GOLD DUST Explodes, Aug 1882



Cairo, Ill., Aug. 7. -- The boiler of the steamer GOLD DUST exploded this evening, and the vessel was burned to the water's edge and sunk 200 yards north of Hickman, Ky. As far as is known 17 persons were killed and 47 wounded. A tug with physicians on board left here for the scene of the disaster at 8 o'clock to-night. Capt. JOHN F. McCORD was slightly hurt, and the third clerk was scalded to death.

Memphis, Tenn., Aug. 7. -- The steamer GOLD DUST, which is reported to have blown up at Hickman, Ky., this afternoon, arrived here on Saturday at 8 o'clock from Vicksburg. She cleaned out and left for St. Louis at 10 o'clock yesterday morning. She added about 20 tons of freight to her cargo and a few passengers here, whose names cannot be ascertained tonight. She had a light freight list. Among the passengers were four ladies, from either Vicksburg or points below here. The GOLD DUST was a regular Sunday morning packet, leaving alternately with the City of Cairo for Vicksburg and St. Louis.

Nashville, Ky., [sic], Aug. 7. -- A dispatch from Hickman, Ky., says: "The steamer GOLD DUST exploded her boilers at 3 o'clock to-day, just after leaving Hickman. Forty-seven persons were scalded and 17 are missing. The boat was landed in the eddy just above the town, and through the exertions of the citizens the cabin passengers, officers, and part of the crew and deck passengers were taken ashore and removed to the hotels and residences. Twenty-four of the injured were lying in HOLCOMB'S dry goods store at one time, where they received every attention before being removed to more comfortable places. With that sympathy and generosity for which the citizens of Hickman are noted, they have done and are doing all they can for the sufferers. The following is a list of the injured:
Capt. JOHN T. McCORD, slightly scalded.
F. S. GRAY, pilot.
SOL PRICE, first mate.
JOHN LANGLOIS, second clerk.
WILLIAM INGRAHAM, third clerk.
WILLIAM TRAVIS, bar-keeper.
PATRICK DANIELS, cabin watchman.
JOHN O'NEAL, deck-hand.
TOM BECK, deck-sweeper.
"JIM," second porter.
Two Pantrymen.
Two Roustabouts.
Three Firemen.
Two Barbers,
Ten Deck Passengers.
MRS. THOMPSON, a cabin passenger, all of above are severely scalded.
D. DUNHAM, second mate, slightly scalded.
P. DEITREID, freight clerk, slightly scalded.
JAMES MONAHAN, sailor, slightly scalded.
JAMES NICHOLS, baker, slightly scalded.
MR. BRIDGES, MR. THORNTON, and two others, whose names are not known, slightly scalded.
One cabin passenger; one deck passenger; one fireman; two coal-passers; eight roustabouts; four cabin-boys and JAMES LAWSON, the first cook, are missing. The boat was run to shore, where she took fire and was burned to the water's edge and sank. The books were saved, but the baggage was lost.
Later -- BILL INGRAHAM; WILLIAM TRAVIS; PAT, the cabin watchman; P. P. COLEMAN, a deck passenger; and JOHN JOY, roustabout, have since died.

The New York Times New York 1882-08-08


Capt. McCord

Capt. McCord was my great great grandfather's SIL. It is nice to read these articles culled by others summarizing this event. Thank you! Richard Yore

The Gold Dust

There is a short chapter in Mark Twain's book "Roughing It" (chapter 37) which refers to this incident.

James A. Lawson


James A Lawson was my g-great grandfather. I have quiert a bit of information on the Lawson's if you're interested.

Ray Carroll

The Gold Dust Steamer Explosion

My great grandfather was the cook on the Steamer Gold Dust when it exploded in 1882. His body was one of the missing. His name was James A Lawson. I would love to have any information that is available from Hickman KY historcal society. Thanks for your help.

Hi Jim

Hi . we be very interested in your article .. if you can email .. i would add it to this site .

Gold Dust explosion

I have an article about the incident from the St. Louis Post Dispatch - I can attach (jpeg) by email if interested.