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New Village, NJ Cement Plant Explosion, Mar 1903



Stewartsville, N. J., March 2. -- An explosion in the Edison Portland cement plant, at New Village, two miles east of here, this evening, killed six persons and injured a score of others. Property valued at $100,000 was destroyed.
The explosion occurred at 5:40 o'clock, just as the shifts were changing from day to night forces, and many were injured whose names it is yet impossible to learn. The plant employs about 350 men on each force. The cause of the disaster is unknown. The explosion was in the coal blower house, where the coal is ground to dust to be fed to the burners which transform the chalk into cement clinker ready for grinding into cement. It may have been cause by spontaneous combustion. The flying timbers and machinery injured many persons after the explosion had ended.
As soon as the news spread the workmen's families rushed to the plant, women and children screaming, and calling for their husbands and fathers, who were supposed to be in the wreckage. Messages were sent to this place and Washington for physicians, and the Fire Department of the latter place was called out. It was carried to the scene on a special train.
The excitement was augmented by the fact that there were seventy tons of coal-dust in the bins, and it was believed that it was liable to explode at any moment, spreading fire to the oil tanks to the south of the coal-blower house. Flames soon started in the wrecked building, and it seemed that a general conflagration would ensue. That, however, was averted through the coal-blower house, the cold-storage house, and the coal-dryer house are in ruins.
The coal blower house was 150 by 75 feet three stories high. The cold-storage house was 20 by 20, and the coal-drier house 50 by 70, each being three stories in height. A special train was run from Easton to take the injured from the wreck to the Easton Hospital. Coroner L. N. SHROPE of Warren County engaged an undertaker to care for the dead.
The scene about the wreck was horrifying. Men whose faces were burned to a crisp were crying piteously for help, and the bodies of the dead could be seen where the flames were gradually creeping toward them. The following are the names of the victims, so far as known:
AL BRYANT, Washington; employed as mixer.
ROBERT BROADHEAD, (colored,) Washington; laborer in the coal blower house.
JAMES MYERS, Stewartsville; night foreman of the coal plant.
DANIEL SMITH, New Village.
NATHAN TOMPKINS, Broadway; night foreman of the clink fine grinder.
GEORGE BOWMAN, Broadway; timekeeper.
E. A. DARLING, general superintendent.
R. H. GOODWILLEY, Easton; laborer.
_____ RICE, Easton; laborer.
HARRY ROSE, Phillipsburg; foreman.
WILLIAM STAATS, night superintendent.
HARRY WEAKLEIN, New Village; electrician.
ALEXANDER WOLFE, Stewartsville.
The Edison cement plant has been in operation about three years, and represents a large investment. The plant has suffered seriously from accidents, and was just beginning to enjoy a prosperous season.
The buildings destroyed are the most necessary of the whole plant, and a total suspension of work must result. The company is financed by New York and Philadelphia capitalists. WILLIAM H. SHEMERDINE of Philadelphia being President. THOMAS A. EDISON is interested in the works. The Superintendent, E. A. DARLING, was seriously if not fatally burned.

The New York Times New York 1903-03-03

article | by Dr. Radut