Dover, NJ Powder Mill Explosion, Apr 1898


Six Men Killed and Four Injured by an Explosion at the Atlantic Powder Company's Works.


Plant Was Seven Miles from Dover, N. J., and Ten Buildings Were Wrecked---It Had Been Running Night and Day for the Government.

EASTON, Penn., April 28.---The town of Dover, in Morris County, N. J., and the county within a radius of twenty miles were startled this afternoon by a series of terrific explosions, the first of which occurred at 2:10 o'clock. The explosions occurred in the Atlantic Powder Company's works, and the plant is now a complete mass of ruins. Six workmen were killed and four others were seriously injured, some probably fatally. Their bodies have not yet been recovered.

The works were situated in an isolated rough country spot seven miles out from Dover. There were ten buildings in the group, and all have been destroyed. The first explosion occurred in one of the packing houses, caused, it is thought, by a spark from the pipe of a careless smoker. The concussion set off the explosives in another packing house near by. Debris and burning timbers of the wrecked buildings were carried high into the air and fell in a shower over the remaining buildings, setting fire to the main factory, the other five packing houses, and the two shell houses. In a brief time the explosives in these buildings were set off and left death and destruction in their wake.

The works have been running night and day turning out rush orders for the United States Government, and a large amount of ammunition ready for shipment was stored in the packing houses. This, with all other explosives, was completely destroyed. The scene presented at the place was terrible. People who felt the shocks and saw the flames of the burning structures flocked to the place from miles around, but could render no aid to the injured. The people were terrified, and held back in constant fear of other explosions. A few men who were in the buildings managed to escape, and they ran about the country bewildered. They could give no intelligent account of the cause of the explosion. When the wives and relatives of the employes[sic] of the factory approached the burning buildings the scene was most heartrending. The women tore their hair and ran about in a pitiable manner. It was near 5 o'clock before the ruins had cooled off sufficiently to be approached, and before the onlookers could be induced to go near the spot. The bodies of the dead were horribly mangled. The heads were missing from some, while here and there lay legless and armless trunks. Many of the injured were cut and maimed so badly that some of them cannot recover. The loss cannot be learned at present.

The New York Times, New York, NY 29 Apr 1898