Two Steamboat Disasters at a Time.
Burning of the Steamboat "City of Newark".
The steamboat City of Newark, plying between this city and Newark, took
fire June 10th, on her morning trip to this city, at about s quarter to 9
o'clock, when off staten Island, just before entering the bay. The fire took
place in the fire room from the boilers, and the boat was actually on fire,
while the captain was giving a lady passenger assurances that in case of fire
there would be no danger, the boat being well supplied with all the appliances
for exinguishment. The sequel proved that no attempt was made to use them if
they were on board, as the boat burned to a shell, and three passengers were
drowned by their eager haste to leave the burning wreck, by a lady passenger
jumping on the gunwale of a boat already full. Fortunately the fire was
discovered by the Achilles, the Commodore, and the Thomas
Hunt, all of whom promptly came to her assistance, and with their small
boats took off all the passengers, the steamboats themselves not daring to
approach near enough to take them, lest they should take fire. The
Achilles came up to the bow, the flames driving aft toward the stern.
But for the propmt and efficient aid afforded by these three steamboats, few
of the sixty passengers would have been saved from the flames or a watery
grave, and as it was, quite a number scorched by the falling cinders and the
intensity of heat. The wreck was towed upon Jersey flats by the
Commodore. How long will the Insurance Companies of this city take
Ferry or Steamboat risks on such boats as have their boilers encased with
wooden bulkheads — wooden boxes to hold fire? The City of Newark had an
iron tank aboard to hold fresh water for the boilers. What a glaring
inconsistency — iron tanks to hold water, and wooden tanks to hold fire!
On the same day an explosion took place of the boilers of the Ferry-boat
running in connection with the Grand Trunk Railroad, Montreal. The explosion
occurred about one o'clock in the afternoon — the two boilers, although
disconnected, were thrown clear of the boat, making her a complete wreck.
Twenty-seven persons were killed by this reckless carelessness. How long
before the engineers of the United States will furnish a steam-boiler, that
will be safe beyond the possibility of explosion unless by design, economize
coal, and make the necessary amount of steam, without occupying so large a
portion of the vessel's capacity? Their number is very great, and but few
agree upon the best mode of filling this great want. Engineers have given more
attention to the engine than to the boilers, seemingly forgetting that the
steam is the power, and that the boiler was quite as important, if not indeed
more important, than the engine itself.
The U.S. Nautical Magazine and Naval Journal Vol. IV (1855), p 259.
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Copyright © 1996 Lars Bruzelius.