New York City, NY Steam Tug D. E. CRARY Explosion, Mar 1863

TERRIBLE STEAM-TUG EXPLOSION.

FIVE MEN KILLED -- FOUR OF THE BODIES MISSING -- PROCEEDINGS UPON THE CORONER'S INQUEST.

THE STEAMER TOTALLY DESTROYED.

About 4 1/2 o'clock yesterday morning a terrific explosion occurred on board the steam-tug D. E. CRARY, lying at the foot of Spring street, North River. The noise produced by the explosion was heard for a long distance, and such was the violence of the concussion, that the lamps along West and the adjoining streets, were extinguished. Fragments of the boat were thrown into the air in every direction, some of which were subsequently found five blocks distant from the scene of the disaster.
Five men are known to have lost their lives by the explosion, viz:
BENJAMIN SMITH, engineer.
JOHN ZIMMERMAN, carpenter.
JOHN JOHNSON, a deck hand.
JOHN STUDOR, the cook of the boat.
JAMES BERGER, a deck hand.
The latter was rescued immediately by Capt. DICKSON and his men, (Twenty-eighth Precinct,) and teken to the New York Hospital. Everything which medical skill could devise was done for him, but it was found that he had sustained serious internal injuries, and, after lingering in great agony until a late hour last night, he expired. The bodies of the others have not been recovered. The presumption is that they went down with the tug, which sank very shortly after the explosion, or that they were blown to pieces, and the fragments scattered in all directions.
The cause of the explosion is yet involved in mystery. Capt. FREDERICK ANTHONY, who had charge of the steamer at the time, makes the following statement:

Statement Of Capt. ANTHONY:
A few minutes before the accident occurred, he went on board of her. Steam had already been got up, and she was about to start on a cruise down the bay. He went down to the cabin for the purpose of changing his boots, and while in the act of doing so he heard the noise of the explosion. Immediately he felt the steam coming upon him in great quantities. To save himself he put his hands to his face, and in this manner he managed, with much difficulty, to make his way to the deck. When he arrived there he found no person wo whom he could speak, and the boat was rapidly sinking. He at once jumped overboard and by means of swimming he escaped with his life, though very much scalded on his hands, arms and face by the escaping steam.

The Coroner's Inquest.
Coroner WILDEY, immediately after being notified of the catastrophe, proceeded to the Twenty-eighth Precinct Station house, where he impanneled a jury. The place of the accident was then visited by them, and such testimony as could be taken, under the circumstances, was given to the Jury. The proceedings were then adjourned until 9 o'clock on Friday morning next, for the purpose of enabling the Police to obtain the testimony which will explain the cause of the disaster.

Description Of The Boat.
The D. E. CRARY has been running only since the 19th day of January last, and is therefore comparatively a new boat. She was about 100 tons burden, and was built by MESSRS. LAWRENCE & FOAKES, of Brooklyn. The engines, which were of the kind termed "high pressure," were manufactured by CAULDWELL & Co., of Newburgh, N. Y., and were warranted to carry 100 pounds of steam. They were thoroughly tested before being placed in the boat, and pronounced to be perfect in every respect. The Coroner's inquest will doubtless develop the true cause of the explosion. By some persons who ought to know, it is said to have been caused by the low state of water in the boiler. Steam was got up at 2 o'clock A.M., and the boat lay at her pier until after 4 o'clock.
The explosion was the most terrific of any which has occurred in this City for a long time past. The boat itself was utterly demolished. Pieces of the boiler were picked up a long distance from the scene of the disaster, and a large portion of the woodwork of the machinery was found on a shed twenty rods off. A piece of iron weighing 400 pounds was thrown over a hundred feet from the tug, and lodged in the rigging of a ship lying at an adjoining pier, and the mast of another vessel was broken off by the falling fragment.
LATER -- The body of JOHN ZIMMERMAN was recovered at 6 1/2 o'clock last evening, and brought to the Twenty-eighth Precinct Station house. None of the others have yet been found.

The New York Times New York 1863-03-25

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