BURSTING OF A LAUNDRY BOILER


| November/December 1967



1708 Jordan Lake Ave., Lake Odessa, Michigan 48849

I am 83 years of age and have had a great many years experience in operating steam boilers. I could give an account of several instances in which miraculous escapes from death or serious injuries were on record. I well remember a case which occurred way back in my school days.

I was born and reared on what was at that time known as one of the best dairy farms in Lenawee County, Mich. This farm, owned by my grandfather and located one mile east of Adrian city limits on the old Maumee Road, was known as Hamilton's Eastside Dairy. My father, N.A.S. Hamilton, owned and operated a milk route in the city over a period of 21 years. Many of the customers resided in the factory district at the east end of town. Therefore it was highly essential that the milk wagon leave the farm at an early hour in order to supply milk for the factory workers breakfast. At four o'clock every morning the alarm clock would jingle. All of us would pop out of bed and begin the days work. The routine schedule was for the milk wagon to pass under the first electric light in town at six o'clock. As there were no electric refrigerators at that early date, and as few people had ice boxes; we could not hold the nights milk over to the following morning. Therefore we must needs make two trips per day, a.m. and p.m. This was done during the warm summer days only.

One afternoon while riding my bicycle into the east end of town I heard a lady shouting to her neighbor. 'Orhm's Laundry has blown up.' I straightway increased my speed so as to view the situation. When bicycle and I reached the scene of the explosion, the fire department had the place roped off so as to keep people at a safe distance while they continued the work of rescuring the injured.

The dome of the boiler was hurled skyward and when it returned to earth it created a large hole near the center of the brick pavement. Mr. Orhms 22 year old son was blown half way through a window with head and shoulders on the outside and the remainder on the inside. It seemed a miracle that he was not killed; but he did recover within a few weeks of time. There were no deaths on this occasion. All the six injured recovered within a few weeks. As there were saloons in that vicinity it was believed that the boiler operator had too much of the destructive element under his belt.

I would like, in another issue of this magazine, to relate other experiences I have had with steam boilers. There may be someone who would like to collect all my writings and write a book.