Melrose, MA Trolley Car Hits Dynamite, Sept 1904
KILLED IN TROLLEY CRASH
Half a Score Dead and Many More Injured by Explosion.
DYNAMITE CAUSES DISASTER
Car Runs Into Box of High Explosive in Boston Which Had Dropped From a Truck Onto the Track - Concussion Felt at Great Distance - Crowd of Three Thousand Gathers at Spot.
Boston, Mass. -- By the explosion of a fifty-pound box of dynamite under a crowded trolley car in Melrose, a suburb of this city, six persons were killed outright - among them a woman and her child - three others received fatal injuries from which they died in the hospital and seventeen more were severely hurt. The front part of the car was blown to pieces and a huge hole torn in the ground. Men standing 100 feet away were knocked off their feet by the force of the explosion and windows were shattered for blocks around.
The conductor of the car was a Harvard student named BLANCHARD.
For more than two hours the history of the explosion was a complete mystery and popular fears in the neighborhood approached panic, as the belief grew that a deliberate outrage had been perpetrated. Late in the evening, however, the police announced they had made an arrest. It was learned a fifty-pound box of dynamite had fallen from an express wagon which had passed along the street just ahead of the car. ROY FENTON, the driver, had not discovered his loss till he had gone several blocks, and though he retraced his way as fast as he could the explosion occurred before he could reach the spot and give warning of the danger. He was within a hundred yards of the car when it struck the box, but was so horrified at the havoc wrought that he followed his first instinct and fled from the scene of the disaster of which he had been the indirect cause.
The car had left its terminal in Boston at 8 o'clock, and most of the passengers were workingmen returning to their homes in Melrose.
The collision occurred at Main and Wyoming streets. Fortunately this was near the end of the car's run for while every seat was occupied when the start was made from Boston, it is known that many passengers had alighted in Malden and other residential districts through which it passed.
The crash of the explosion carried news of the disaster all over Melrose, and in an incredibly short space of time a crowd of fully 3000 persons had gathered round the spot and swarmed in from the adjoining streets. All the doctors in Melrose were called upon to meet the emergency, and messengers were dispatched to summon help from Malden and Medford, and even, from Boston. The sight was appalling. Men standing fifty feet away had been injured by broken glass and flying timbers, and some of the dead and dying had been hurled nearly as far. The ground around was strewn with arms and legs and other parts of human bodies, and the crowd grew hysterical as the police set about their grewsome[sic] task of collecting the dead.
One of the passengers of the car said that it seemed as if the car was lifted bodily in the air and came down with a thundering crash, smashing to pieces.
The paving stones beneath the car were ground into powder by the force of the explosion and the car rails curled up. The faces of all the passengers were blackened as if by powder and the clothes of many were torn into shreds. Several persons were pinned beneath the rear trucks of the car and it took twenty-five or thirty men to life up the great portions and pull them out. The front portion of the car was shattered and blown in every direction, while the fender and front platform were hurled a distance of fifty feet.
The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1904-09-30
Researched and Transcribed by Stu Beitler. Thank you, Stu!