St. Louis, MO Steamboat CHARITON Explosion, Jul 1837


Soon after nightfall, the Chariton put out from the wharf at St. Louis, and when she had run about fifty yards up the river, one of her boilers exploded, by which accident nine persons on board were badly hurt ; but, happily, no lives were lost. A gentleman, who was a resident of St. Louis at that time, states that when he heard the noise of the explosion, he hastened down to the wharf, when the first object which attracted his attention was a colored man, who had just been brought to the shore in a boat. He had been taken out of the river, into which he and several other persons had been thrown at the time of the accident. He was badly scalded, and also much cut and bruised, and bled profusely. Soon another boat arrived, with two white men in a similar condition, who had also been rescued from the water. The appearance of one of these was especially frightful. Every visible part of his body, (to use the language of the narrator,) "was scorched and burned to a crisp ; his eyes were put out, and his head was literally roasted !" Though it was stated that no lives were lost by the accident, it is scarcely possible that this man, so dreadfully injured, could have long survived. On the boiler-deck of the Chariton, two other wounded men were extended ; one of them, the chief engineer, had bear completely overwhelmed by the torrent of scalding water which the boiler had disgorged. He continually uttered the most affecting entreaties to the bystanders " to kill him at once, and put him out of his misery !" The usual applications of oil, &c., seemed to afford no relief.

The person who gives this account seems to ascribe the accident to some neglect or mismanagement ; but the grounds on which he makes this accusation are not specified.

Lloyd's Steamboat Disasters, page 95