New Orleans, LA Steamboat PILOT Explosion, Mar 1844


On the tenth of March, 1844, while the steamboat Pilot, Capt. Gow, was leaving the woodyard of Mr. Felix, opposite New Orleans, the starboard boiler burst with a terrific report. Capt. Gow and Mr. Felix were standing on the boiler-deck; both were blown overboard, and each had a leg broken, and they were otherwise severely injured, yet they succeeded in reaching the shore. William Gow, a son of the captain, was standing on the foreeastle, and was frightfully mangled. His spine and both his legs were broken. He was removed to the hospital at New Orleans, where he expired on the following morning. One of the deck-hands jumped overboard and was drowned. John Nixon, first engineer, and Henry Fox, second engineer, were badly scalded. One of the steersmen was slightly scalded, and had both his legs broken. Capt. Gow himself had his legs broken, his skull fractured, and was internally injured, and it was supposed that he could not possibly recover. Several others who were on board were more or less hurt. One of the crew died of his injuries at the hospital, about a week after the accident took place.

Captain Gow and Mr. Felix were blown to the height of fifty feet in the air, and their escape from instant death is certainly one of the most extraordinary circumstances which we find in the records of steamboat calamities.

Lloyd's Steamboat Directory and Disasters on the Western Waters, Cincinnati, Ohio; James T. Lloyd & Co, 1856, page 109