From Our Early Files


| July/August 1971

Terrible Explosion

The Lebanon Weekly Standard

December 24, 1879

We are grateful to the Editor of The Lebanon Enterprise newspaper for granting permission to reprint this story. It was sent in by James O 'Daniel, Route 1, Lebanon, Kentucky 40033.

About 4 o'clock Tuesday afternoon, December 16, the boiler of the sawmill of Messrs. Gabbert & Curry, about four miles north of Willisburg, Washington County, exploded with extraordinary violence. It is thought that the water was very low in the boiler, and a large quantity of cold water was added, thus causing the explosion.

There were eleven men on the premises at the time the accident occurred, nine of whom were killed or wounded. Four others were more or less injured. The wreck created by the explosion testified of its extraordinary violence. The boiler was torn to fragments, and the flues were blown many yards away, and some of them imbedded in and twisted about a stump. The shed over the mill was torn to pieces and fragments hurled about promiscuously. Report says that some of the fragments of the wreck were blown half a mile, but we have not been able to verify the report as to the distance. All accounts, however, agree that the explosion was extraordinarily violent and destructive.


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