Cleveland, OH Mower Factory Boiler Explosion, Dec 1886



CLEVELAND, Ohio, Dec. 31.--A boiler explosion in J. F. Sieberling & Co.'s Empire Mower and Reaper Works this forenoon killed one lad, wounded five other persons, and destroyed property valued at $20,000. Two boilers in a separate building connected with the main works furnished steam for a 125 horse power engine. Both were inspected last month and pronounced safe. One was put in less than a year ago, the other was old, but had been overhauled. The engineer, who had just stepped outside the building and miraculously escaped, unhurt, says he had 90 pounds of steam on and the boilers were two-thirds full of water.

The works have been under a boycott about a year and this fact gave rise to ugly rumors, which are probably without foundation. The boiler and engine rooms occupied a building 40 by 50 feet and two stories high, in the centre of the square buildings forming the main part of the shops. The boiler house was completely shattered, not a brick being left in place down to the foundation wall; and not a window remains in all the surroundings. In the second story of the boiler house were three boys at work tacking canvas carriers, who were carried up with the wreck and buried beneath the débris. They were William Brown, Rudolph and William Zander. The last two were removed without much trouble, Rudolph heroically rushing back into the wreck, which was then burning, and after almost superhuman effort freeing his brother and carrying him out, bleeding and in almost a dying condition, his head being badly cut. Young Brown was buried out of sight. His cries and moans penetrated the clouds of steam and dust until strong men wept. The father of the boy was present, almost frantic from grief. Finally the lad spoke out plainly. His voice was full of cheer. In answer to questions he said that he was not suffering much, but that the fire was rapidly reaching him.

It was feared that he would be drowned by the water that was being poured in, but the said that he was all right. Ten minutes later he was taken from the débris dead, his arms, shoulders, and ribs broken in many places. E. H. Cowan, a machinist, was struck on the head with a brick and severely hurt. J. E. Vurner had his right leg broken by being hit by a brick, and C. Dutt's left arm was broken in a horrible manner. Joe Weaver was caught under a wall of an adjoining building that was knocked in by the shock and was buried out of sight. His head and back were seriously injured and it is feared he will die.

The New York Times, New York, NY 1 Jan 1887