Minneapolis, MN Washburn Mill Disaster, May 1878

Etching Of Disaster Rubble Of Mills Disaster Minneapolis MINN Washburn Mill 5-2-1878.jpg

Twenty-two men went on in the Washburn mill at 6:30, none of whom have been heard from up to 8:30. Many others of the day force must have been in the buildings.
Up to 9 o'clock the list of killed and injured so far as ascertained are as follows:
Big Mill -- Grinders; CHAS. HENNING, FRED MERRILL, CLARK WILBUR; oilers; WM. LESLIE, CYRUS EWING; machinists; OLE SHIE, WALTER SAVAGE, PATRICK SUDD, ED. MERRILL; watchmen; HARRY HICK, E. W. BURBANK, one unknown. AUG. SMITH was blown out of the window, hurt, but not killed. Diamond Mill -- JOHN BOEER, killed; DAVID WARD had gone out after a pail of water and escaped unhurt. Galaxy Mill -- JOE MANTI, in the third story after the wall was blown out, jumped down into the canal and escaped unhurt. Zenith Mill -- two men, WIDSTRUM and FRED GEORGE. In Pettit, Robinson & Co's mill, DEAN DAY was thrown out of the window and injured.
Later -- The number of dead is now placed at seventeen. Many thrilling incidents and narrow escapes are recounted. DANIEL DAY was blown the whole length of Pettit & Robinson's mill, and through a read window and escaped. One poor poor fellow who could not be recognized had escaped alive from the explosion, and was observed crawling through the darting hungry flames towards the track of the Minneapolis & St. Louis road, directly in the rear of the Washburn Mill. He managed to reach the rail, and there, evidently became exhausted, and fell back into the raging hell behind, where his agonies instantly ended. It now appears that most of the day force had gone home and only the smaller night force remained. The loss of property is enormous, but the confusion is too great for an intelligent estimate at present. Rough calculation places it at $1,500,000, of which $1,000,000 will fall upon the milling interest. The loss throughout the city by the breaking of glass, etc., is $10,000. Five mills and a planing mill were destroyed, besides the adjoining property, including 87 out of the 197 runs of stone in the city. The shock of the explosion of the Washburn Mill at Minneapolis was plainly felt at St. Paul and the flames were seen, creating intense excitement in various parts of the city. Pieces of charred roof paper, small timbers and cinders were picked up and hurled in the air by the explosion and brought to St. Paul, nine miles distant, by the wind.
The five flouring mills which were involved in the disaster formed a group which comprises the heaviest concerns in the State, chief among which were the two Washburn mills the property of ex-Gov. C. C. WASHBURN of Wisconsin, of which the one in which the explosion occurred was the largest flouring mill in the country and the largest but one in the world. It was built in 1870, including 42 run of stone and was worth $200,000. It is now a smoking mas of ruins together with its companion. The destruction is complete so far as the limits above named, and the loss is serious within much wider bounds.

Mills Destroyed.
St. Paul, Minn., April 3. -- The following is a list of the mills destroyed with the number of runs of stone in each:
Washburn A mill -- 42 runs.
Galaxy -- 12 runs.
Hennepin, or Diamond -- 6 runs.
Humbolt -- 6 runs.
Pettit, Robinson & Co. -- 15 runs.
Zenith -- 6 runs.
TOTAL -- 87 runs.

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