Parkersburg, WV (near) Steamboat MOTTO Explosion, Aug 1836


We are indebted to an intelligent gentlemen from Kentucky, for the following particulars of a destructive explosion on the Ohio River. The steamboat MOTTO, making her first trip from Louisville to Pittsburgh, ran on the shoals at the foot of Blannerhassett's Island. In attempting to get off, too great a quantity of steam accumulated, and the boiler burst, killing immediately three persons, and scalding eight others so severely that they died within a few hours, and three more, it was feared, would survive their injury only a few days. The steamboat Roanoke came up to the Motto some hours after the disaster, and afforded what relief could be given. The persons who were instantly killed, were the engineer, a deck passenger, who was blown through the stern of the boat more than twenty feet into the river, and a cabin passenger, MR. W. F. ADAMS, of Hollidaysburgh, Pennsylvania. Our informant, who was a passenger on the Roanoke, gathered the following information relative to MR. ADAMS, whose fate seemed to have made a greater impression on the surviving crew and passengers, than that of the other sufferers. He had just graduated at Augusta College, in Kentucky, and was returning home to his family, with his diploma; he was attended to the boat by a large procession of his fellow students, and the hearty cheers and kindly farewell given to the youth by those with whom he had been so long associated, commended him to the respect and affectionate regard of the passengers and crew of the Motto. At the moment of the disaster, the cabin passengers, and the boat was full, were all in or near their berths on the upper deck and aft, it being about two hours after dinner -- all excepting young ADAMS; he had been on the lower deck, and was just leaving a position near the wheel, when the explosion took place. His death must have been instantaneous; he was found twisted round the shaft of the wheel. The last of the eleven who died, was the cabin boy. Our informant says, that though used to rought scenes, his heart was chilled by that presented on board the Motto. Never did he witness, never indeed did his imagination conjure up such an appalling sight. Some of the passengers in the Motto said that the line of the safety valve had become entangled, so that the engineer could not let off the excess of steam. They added also, that the engine had, in their opinnion, been badly managed through the whole voyage. We have already remarked that MR. ADAMS was the only cabin passenger killed. Three deck or steerage passengers were among the eleven dead; and the wounded, alive, when our informant left the Motto,
if we understood him correctly, to the end.
U.S. Gaz.

Alton Observer Illinois 1836-09-08