Thompson's Point, NJ chemical works explosion, Mar 1884



CHESTER, Penn., March 29. - The nitro-glycerine house of the Repaune Chemical-works, at Thompson's Point, N. J., across the river from this city, exploded at 10:30 o'clock this morning. The explosion is supposed to have been caused by too much heat being generated by the nitric acid. This supposition is based on the fact that the six occupants of the building were seen to rush for the door and were jammed in the passage when the explosion occurred. The six were instantly killed, their bones being broken and twisted and their heads crushed in a frightful manner. Their names were as follows:

Lamontt Dupont, Vice-President of the company, and connected with the Dupont Powder-works in Delaware; W. N. Hill, Superintendent of the works; Edward Norcross, compounder of nitro-glycerine; George Norton, an employe; Lewis Lay, also an employe, and a visitor supposed to be Mr. A. S. Ackerson, a chemist, of St. Louis. Mr. Ackerson arrived in Philadelphia late last night and stopped at the Continental Hotel. This morning he inquired of the hotel clerk the way to reach Thompson's Point, and, upon being directed, left the hotel about 8:30 A. M. Norcross, Norton, and Lay lived at Thompson's Point, where the works are situated, and Dupont and Hill lived elsewhere. The bodies of the dead were placed in boxes, and the Deputy Coroner of the county began an inquest, after the conclusion of which the bodies will be removed to their respective homes.

A workman standing on a trestle-work not more than 100 feet from the building when it blew up was thrown several feet into a field, several large stones alighting all around him. He says that he saw the men rushing to the door and heard the report. It appears that Norcross had said during the morning that he did not like the way the dynamite had been working, and that he could not keep the heat down. The surgeons who went over from Chester were of little service. The bodies of all the men were not much mutilated, except by flying timbers and stones. Nothing remains of the building, which was a two-story frame structure. An excavation sufficient to bury a good-sized house was made in the ground where the building stood, and houses for a half-mile around were badly shattered. The works, which are largely owned by the Duponts of Delaware, have been in operation for about four years, and this is the first accident that has happened there.

The New York Times, New York, NY 30 Mar 1884