Mt. Pleasant, NJ Boiler Explosion, July 1885


At. 4:48 p.m. Tuesday the boiler in the soap and fertilizer factory of L. D. JONES at Mt. Pleasant, about two miles from Matawan, exploded. The engineer, EDWARD BENNET, and the fireman, GEORGE BENNET, were badly injured. The cause of the explosion is unknown, although several theories are advanced. The most probable explanation is that a large iron tank just over the boiler gave way and falling on the steam chest was the cause of the accident. The tank was put in position only a few weeks ago, and it was feared then that the supports were not sufficiently strong to hold the weight which was about 50,000 pounds.
An examination after the accident showed that the supports had parted. MR. JONES, the proprietor of the factory, was in the engine room three minutes before the explosion occurred, and he told a reporter that there were forty pounds of steam at that time, but the injured engineer asserts that there was a pressure of only thirty pounds, and that the boiler could stand a pressure of eighty pounds.
The report was heard at a distance of several miles, and crowds visited the scene of the explosion. The roof of the building was thrown 200 feet into the air, and the cap of the boiler weighing 750 pounds, was thrown 450 feet from the building.
Pieces of pipe and heavy iron girders landed a quarter of a mile away. The vat containing about one hundred barrels of fertilizing material was blown from its position, and the boiling contents were scattered over a strip of land fifty feet wide and by actual measurement over 1,800 feet long, leaving the ground as black as ink. The stench caused by the fertilizer was sickening, and people living in the neighborhood had to go indoors to escape the odor. EDWARD BENNET, the engineer, is twenty-one years old. He is fearfully burned on the face and body and badly cut by the falling iron. His sufferings are intense. His brother, the fireman, although more fortunate, is badly injured. Dr. Kennedy, the attending physician, says they will probably recover. It is considered miraculous that more were not hurt as about twenty others were working in the building near the place where the accident occurred. The damage to the factory is large but cannot be estimated as yet.

The Daily Times New Brunswick New Jersey 1885-07-29