Boiler Explosion of 1910

Personal recollection and newspaper account of the boiler explosion of a Minneapolis return flue engine

| March/April 1967

  • Boiler explosion aftermath: This Minneapolis return flue engine blew up in 1910
    Boiler explosion aftermath: This Minneapolis return flue engine blew up in 1910.
    courtesy Rudolph Novotny

  • Boiler explosion aftermath: This Minneapolis return flue engine blew up in 1910

It was September 9, 1910, when this Minneapolis return flue engine blew up. That morning was a quiet forenoon. I was painting the granary when I heard the explosion. This place is 11 miles northwest of our place and five and one-half miles from Clarkson. There was a traveling salesman on the street that day and, hearing the explosion, he said, “Another boiler went up in the air, as I heard one like that before.”

Newspaper account of the Minneapolis boiler explosion in 1910

Out at the John Calelly farm, northwest of town, on Friday last the explosion of a traction engine wrought fearful havoc and cost Joseph V. Moore, a young man about seventeen years of age, his life.

On that day Hradec Bros., with their steam outfit, were engaged in threshing Mr. Calelly’s grain. A few minutes before 10 o’clock that morning a short stop was made for lunch, and all who were working about the machine, with the exception of Anton Hradec, the engineer, and Joseph V. Moore, who was in charge of the water wagon and was just hauling his first load, had retired behind the stack to eat lunch.

Hradec was urged to come with the rest, but desired to get the belt, which had slipped off, back on the machine and asked someone to come help him. In answer they told him there was time enough for that after lunch. Just then young Moore came up with the water wagon and the engineer proceeded to fill the boiler. He was standing at the rear of the engine with Moore seated on the tender when last seen by the men before the accident followed.

Just as the crowd behind the grain stack were starting to eat their lunch, there was a deafening report and immediately the air was filled with escaping steam and broken pieces of iron and steel. The top half of the stack behind which the men were seated was torn away by the mutilated parts of the wrecked engine and boiler.

When the men rushed out from what had proven their place of safety, it was a frightful sight that met their gaze. There was the wrecked engine beneath a part of which laid Joseph Moore badly bruised and scalded. A telephone call was sent to Clarkson and in twelve minutes after the accident, Drs. Allen and Humprey were on the scene doing all in their power to relieve the suffering of the victim of the disaster.


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