Bethlehem, PA Boiler Explosion, Jan 1883



Bethlehem, Penn., Jan. 9. -- Shortly after 2 o'clock this afternoon a frightful boiler explosion occurred at No. 1 blast furnace of the Bethlehem Iron Company, resulting in the death of four men and a woman, and in the serious injury of several others.
Ten boilers were situated over the engine-house, at an elevation of 35 feet. Five of these were 40 inches in diameter and 36 feet in length, and the others were smaller and were used for heating purposes. Two of the largest boilers exploded with terrific force, wrecking the interior of the engine-house and demolishing nearly half of the pattern shop adjoining the engine-house. One of the boilers was carried through the ventilators and broke through the roof of the old mill and fell to the ground.
Of the 10 boilers only 3 were left in position. The scene that followed was one of alarm and consternation. The workmen rushed to and fro in their excitement, and it was at first believed that the loss of life was much greater. The interior of the engine-house was filled with debris, and men were at once put to work to search for those missing. An hour or so after the bodies of GEORGE GROEDY and JESSE BRIGHT, the engineers, were found. At the time of the explosion
they were engaged in repairing the machinery connected with the boiler. SAMUEL McCANDLESS, one of the boiler-tenders, was scalded to death. Another man was taken from the ruins who was not recognized.
The wife of a puddler named GRAFT, who had brought his dinner, was passing through the engine-house at the time on her way home and was killed.
Her body was picked out of the debris. WILLIAM BURCH and R. CLEWELL, pattern makers, were badly but not fatally injured. The search in the debris continues tonight, as it is reported that one or two employes are still missing. The boiler thrown through the roof of the old mill, was hurled a distance of 300 feet and fell among about 100 workmen. The damage to the mill and machinery is great. Last week the boilers were cleaned and inspected and were pronounced safe. They have been used probably 10 or 15 years. The authorities
of the works are unable to account for the explosion, and refuse to be interviewed.

The New York Times New York 1883-01-10