Dover, NJ Atlantic Dynamite Co. Explosion, Apr 1898


Packing Houses at Dover, N. J., of the Atlantic Works Blown Up.


The Plant Had Been Running Night and Day For the Government -- Ten Buildings Were Wrecked Packing Ammunition For Shipment to Troops in Southern Camps.

DOVER, N. J. (Special). -- Six small one-story frame structures, belonging to the Atlantic Dynamite Company, whose plant, comprising some eighty brick and frame buildings is situated at Kenvil, about five miles from this city, were blown up a few minutes before 3 o'clock Thursday afternoon, causing the death of seven men and more or less seriously injuring four others. The six buildings, which were destroyed by three distinct explosions, were used as packing houses. A seventh packing house and three houses in which were stored empty cartridge shells were destroyed by fire, which for a time endangered a number of brick magazines, in which were stored many tons of dynamite.

The first explosion occurred at 2:54 o'clock, the time being indicated by the stopping of the office clock, a full quarter of a mile from the explosion. In each packing house there were two men employed. Three packing houses blew up in the first explosion, and the six men employed in these were almost literally blown to atoms. They were:
ELIAS ABERS, of Kenvil, leaves a wife and one child; WILLIAM HAYCOCK, of Kenvil, leaves a wife and six children; ALFRED RARICK, of Kenvil, leaves a wife and four children; CASPAR RAY, of Kenvil, leaves a wife and five children; DAVID SCHEER, of Succasunna, leaves a wife and five children; WILLIAM STUMPF.

The concussion of this explosion caused a packing house in which JOHN THORPE and ELLSWORTH IKE were working to collapse, and both, THORPE and IKE were fatally cut by the flying debris. Both started to run, but had not got twenty feet from the building when a second explosion occurred, blowing up several more packing houses, among them the one they had just left.

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 for 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 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 employees of the factory approached the burning buildings, the scene was most heart-rending. The women tore their hair and ran about in a pitiable manner. It was near 5 o'clock before the ruins had cooled 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 Cranbury Press New Jersey 1898-05-06


Explosion at Atlantic Dynamite Co April 1898

My great grandfather was Alfred Rarick who was one of the six men killed initially by the explosion.