Minneapolis, MN Washburn Mill Disaster, May 1878
A MINNEAPOLIS HORROR -- EXTENSIVE CONFLAGRATION AMONG THE GREAT MILLS OF THAT CITY.
EXPLOSION IN THE MAMMOTH WASHBURN MILL.
SIX LARGE MILLS BURNED, CONTAINING 87 RUNS OF STONE -- WHICH WAS NEARLY HALF THE MILL CAPACITY OF THE CITY.
SEVENTEEN LIVES LOST AND MANY INJURED -- FULL PARTICULARS OF THE GREAT CATASTROPHE.
Minneapolis, May 3. -- At 7 o'clock last evening the city was shaken as by an earthquake by a terrific explosion, which was promptly traced to the groups of great flouring mills in what is known as the platform, just above St. Anthony's Falls, where the entire flouring interest of the city is concentrated. The explosion came from the great Washburn mill, from which a column of flame was seen to shoot up several hundred feet, followed by a crash which crushed the immense structure like an egg shell. Secondary explosions instantly destroyed the Thompson & Hoyt and Humboldt mills, and the flames immediately burst out and communicated to the Galaxy mills, those of Pettit, Robinson & Co., Cahill, Ankeny & Co., Day & Sons, Day & Rollins, Buell, Newton & Co., Gorton, Hayward & Co., the Washburn A and B Mills, and lesser structures down the bank of the river, nearly to the Minneapolis & St. Louis railroad shops. The destruction from the shock of the explosion extended much further, glass being wrecked for several squares, and buildings shaken throughout the city. At 8:30 the fire was raging within these limits, and the firemen working valiantly to subdue the flames.
The immediate theory of the explosion is that it took place in gas generated in the patent middlings purifier process. The explosion took place at the hour of changing the day for night hands, and many of both were undoubtedly in the building.
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