Fishkill, NY Aqueduct Dynamite Explosion, Jan 1910


Eleven men are known to have been
killed and seven others badly injured,
some of them mortally, in the premature
explosion of about 400 pounds of dynamite
in the tunnel of the great aqueduct
for carrying water to the City of
New York from the Ashokan Dam in the
Oatskill Mountains. Two of those known
to have been killed are M. M. Lewis of
New York City, Superintendent of the
contracting firm of R. K. Everett & Co.,
which has the contract for the Cold
Spring section of the aqueduct, and
George Barnes, the foreman of the work,
whose home was in Cold Spring.
The place where the explosion occurred
was about one-half mile distant from
Cold Spring, in Putnam County, and seven
miles distant from Fishkill Landing. It
is on the east bank of the Hudson River
opposite "Storm King Mountain," on the
slope of another mountain known as the
"Breakneck." At this time, which is six
hours after the explosion, it is considered
as quite certain that eighteen men were
in the tunnel drilling holes for the blasts
when the accidental overturning of a lantern
set the concussion caps off. R.C
Everett, President of the contracting
firm, was standing near the mouth of the
tunnel at the time and was himself hurled
to the ground, but not injured.
Were Ready to Leave.
The men in the tunnel were Italians
and Negroes, and were just ready to leave
the place when the explosion occurred.
The custom is to quit work at 4 P.M.,
and immediately the tunnel is cleared. The
blasts, which this afternoon numbered
about twenty-five, are set off by electricity.
Mr. Everett, when he regained
his feet following the terrific concussion,
ran to the mouth of the tunnel and met
two Italians who came screaming out of
the hole severely injured.
Mr. Everett, of course, realized what
had happened and tried to ask
the Italians something about it. They
were too frightened, however, and kept
screaming, both of them finally collapsing
as a result of their injuries. In a
few minutes, three other Italians crawled
out of the smoke-laden hole, all of them
frightfully mangled, but, like the first
so dazed and weak that they were unable to give any information. Mr. Everett tried to enter the death
hole, but was driven back by the powder gas that was pouring out of it and had to give up the attempt. He hurried then to a telephone and got Drs.
Holland and Thompson of Cold Spring
to hurry to the place. In the meantime,
blowers were put in operation to clear
the tunnel of the gases and the Aqueduct
Police from the Cold Spring Station
were ordered to the place, and they
came as fast as their horses would carry
Rescue Work Begins
The police assumed complete charge of
the rescue work, and as soon as the tunnel
was cleared of the gas, they went into
the place. A sight more horrible seldom
meets the eyes of men. The dead were
found beneath a mass of rock and debris,
literally hammered by the force of the
explosion into a bleeding mass of heads,
limbs and torses. The bodies were placed
in an improvised morgue near the scene
of the disaster, while the injured were
rushed to a hospital camp maintained by
the contractors. The cause of the explosion
had not been ascertained to-night,
but it is believed that one of the workmen
carrying a torch, tripped and fell,
igniting a fuse and setting off a series
of charges of dynamite.

Jan. 22, 1910 edition of "The New York Times"