Scranton, PA Locomotive Explosion, Oct 1859

EXPLOSION OF A LOCOMOTIVE AT SCRANTON -- The Scranton (Pa.) Republican of the 27th inst., states that on Monday last five persons were instantly killed by an explosion of a locomotive in that place.

At the time of the explosion four persons were on the engine -- ROBERT STARETT, the engineer, ELIAS SCHWARTZ, of Pittson, formerly of Moscow, where he kept hotel, and where he was then bound; WILLIAM H. ALLEN, a carpenter of Hyde Park, who was going out to "number 6" and PATRICK WELSH, a trackman, who lives near Moscow, and had come to Scranton after a doctor to see his sick wife. The fireman, JOHN BROWN, was standing near the engine when the explosion took place. It had been brought out of the engine-house during the morning, and had been used about the yard for some time, and was about starting out with a coal train when the explosion took place. The unfortunate men were hurled upwards with terrific violence, the engineer and another falling on the farther side of the engine, one in the tender, another just a few feet this side, while SCHWARTZ fell some ten rods off. Those who saw it say they were thrown up a hundred feet or more, while the air was fairly filled with missiles, broken pieces of the locomotive. These came down in every direction. Two large pieces of the boiler, each weighing more than half a ton, were thrown in the open space at the corner of Penn and Lackawanna avenues. Some thirty rods off another was hurled over on the embankment which runs along by the Round House. The dome came down on the adjoining track, breaking a rail in several places. SCHWARTZ'S watch was picked up on the track several rods above the scene of the disaster. A piece weighing some forty-four pounds fell on McCUE'S building, near the St. Charles Hotel, damaging the roof considerably. The stove pipe, which SCHWARTZ had in his arm, lodged in the alley, between GEO. FULLER and KOCH'S. Almost every one in the vicinity has some memorial of the disaster.

The engine was the Virginia, one of Winan's coal burners, known as a "Camel Back." With one exception the parties were instantly killed, and he gasped unconsciously but for a few minutes. STARETT was severely injured about the head and had both legs fractured. SCHWARTZ'S head was blown off, and one arm and leg broken. WELSH was bruised about the head and chest, while his legs and arm were fractured. ALLEN'S limbs were broken, and his head blown away. BROWN was wounded about the head, and had one of his arms fractured.

The verdict of the jury was, the parties came to their deaths from the explosion of the locomotive Virginia, at the Scranton depot, by the recklessness of the engineer wedging down the safety valve, thereby preventing an escape of steam at any pressure; under such circumstances an explosion was inevitable.

Philadelphia Press 1859-10-31