Grant Station, NY Lumber Mill Boiler Explosion, Feb 1872

The Boiler explosion at Grant Station.

Yesterday, (Thursday,) morning Coroner O.F. Price was summoned from this village to Grant Station to hold an inquest on the body of Mr. O.S. Davis who was killed by a boiler explosion at the lumber mill of Messrs. Packard and Pyle on the day previous, and accompanied by our Local he took the mail train on Thursday. Coroner Price empanelled a jury consisting of S.T. Benedict, foreman, Wm. McCullough, W. S. Fox, H. Allen, N.O. Mather, L.C. Daniels, and Elisha Morgan. The jury examined the body of Mr. Davis, and also visited the scene of the explosion. But very little damage was done to the mill, the boiler seeming to have been lifted from its position and set back about forty feet, simply tearing up the brick work surrounding it.

Several witnesses were examined, the first one being Mr. Willard May, who was employed about the mill, and was on the second floor at the time of the explosion. He testified that the force pump was frozen up and the hands about the mill were engaged in thawing it out. When he entered the mill on the morning there was a hot fire in the arch, that he didn’t see the water cocks tried, and that there was about one hundred pounds of steam on when the explosion occurred.

Dr. Edson E. Boyd, of Asheville, testified that when he reached the scene, Davis was dead. That he had examined the body and found ten contused wounds on his head-one in the centre of the forehead and one back of left ear-a shoulder and several ribs were broken, and there was a deep wound in the side. Thought his death was caused from wounds on head. Had found two others injured. One, Mr. Tanner, was badly scalded, and had since died. The other, Mr. Wm. Mather, was dangerously burned on the arms, legs, and abdomen, and his left leg was badly fractured below the knee.

John C. Brindley, testified that he was in the mill when the explosion occurred, and was standing near the main shaft fly wheel. The engine had not been started that morning. Davis stood by the boiler turning the blow off valve to get hot water. The force pump was frozen. There was about seventy five pounds of steam on when he last noticed the gauge, about ten minutes before the explosion occurred, and a very hot fire under the boilers. He tried the water when he went into the shop about half past seven, and found one gauge in the boiler indicated water. Didn’t think the boiler was “foaming” at that time, although it might have been “foaming” before the explosion occurred. About six pails of water had been drawn from the boiler to prime the pump.

Jessie Pyle one of the proprietors and superintendent of the mill, testified that he had run the mill about one month, and didn’t know anything about the boilers, as he did not put them in. Thought they had been run about four years, and considered them both sound. The engine was calculated for a 60-horse power engine. Had examined the boiler since the explosion and did not find anything to indicate defect. Kept both boilers in use. The boiler from which the boys were drawing water was farthest from the pump and when they opened the connection between the boilers the water ran into the boiler that exploded from full boiler. The engineer, Mr. Mather, had some trouble with the pump the day before, but he did not hear of it until a few minutes previous to the explosion. Had been to the mill that morning, but when the explosion took place was at the hotel. Davis was his foreman and book keeper.