Ashburn, MO Hercules Powder Explosion, Nov 1898

HERCULES POWDER EXPLOSION.

WORKS NEAR ASHBURN, LA., ARE BLOWN TO ATOMS.

BODIES OF SIX OF THE VICTMS FOUND.

DEBRIS FROM WRECK OF DEMOLISHED PACKING HOUSE STRIKES AND CRUSHES DWELLING HOUSES HALF A MILE AWAY.

St. Louis, Nov. 23. -- A special telegram to the Post-Dispatch from Louisiana, Mo., says:
A terrific explosion occurred at the Hercules powder works near Ashburn, in this county about 8 o'clock this morning, causing the earth to tremble for many miles around. The packing house was completely demolished, several other buildings damaged and at least six men killed.
The known dead are:
WILLIAM WILSON, foreman and son of manager, living at Ashburn.
ALFRED WENZEL.
ALBERT MILLER, Hannibal.
D. M. SMITH, Louisiana.
WILLIAM CHARLESTON, Ashburn.
JACK HOLLINGER, Ashburn.
The explosion took place in the packing house and was felt a distance of twenty-five miles. Telephone reports from Pittsfield, New Canton, Bayless, Winchester, Kinderhook and all over Pike County, Illinois, are to the effect that the explosion was plainly felt in those places. Until the truth was known the inhabitants thought it was an earthquake. At New Canton windows were broken and everywhere buildings were shaken. Something like 10,000 pounds of powder was usually kept in the packing house, which was a frame structure.
During the day men were engaged with buckets picking up such bits of flesh and bones as they could find. A piece of spinal column was found half a mile from the scene. Those injured were employed in another building. They were struck by flying debris, but none of them were fatally injured.
The cause of the explosion is not yet definitely known. There was a terrific roar and the packing house was thrown into the air as though shot from a volcano. Window glass was shattered for a radius of ten miles.
The employes were thrown into the air by the force of the explosion, and then their bruised, battered and torn bodies fell back amid the wreck and burning debris.
Half a dozen persons were injured by flying timbers and a number of nearby houses were struck. One house half a mile away was almost demolished by a huge mass of brick and mortar that fell upon it, while it was still rocking from the force of the explosion. Rescue parties are at work with all their might trying to reach the buried men.
A special train was made up in Hannibal and a large number of citizens hastened to the scene.

Omaha Daily Bee Nebraska 1898-11-24