Editor's note: The following text is an except from "Terrible Explosion"., reprinted in the Queensland Australia newspaper "Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser." Thank you to Contributing Scholar George A. Thompson for finding, cataloging and transcribing this article. The language, spelling and grammar of the article reflects the time period when it was written.
(From the Special Correspondent of the "New York Tribune.")
Newburgh, June 3, 1868.
Dwellers along the Hudson River for a distance of 30 miles north and south of
this city were startled at six o'clock this morning by the shaking of their houses, the
rattling of windows, and two distinct, heavy, rumbling reports. Many supposed that two
shocks of an earthquake had taken place, and rushed from their houses in excitement.
The cause of the excitement was the explosion of 10,000 pounds of powder, and the
blowing up of two powder mills, owned by Messrs. Smith and Rand, about four miles
west of this city, on the South Plank Road, leading to Walden, Orange County. A visit to
the spot revealed the following facts: The graining mill, where the first explosion
occurred, was a sort of double building, 20 by 16 feet, built of stone, with wooden sides
and one story high. It stood about one hundred feet from the main road, separated from
the latter by a clump of trees. In it at the time of the explosion was five tons of powder,
the most of it being in the grain. The glazing mill was situated across a dam, about one
hundred feet from the graining mill, and was about fifteen feet in diameter, octagonal in
form, and was in no way connected with the graining mill. In it at the time of the
explosion was about a ton of powder.
At exactly six o'clock this morning the graining mill blew up, the fire shooting with
great violence across the dam to the glazing mill, and in five seconds thereafter that
was also blown to fragments. The scene is described as being fearfully grand. The
foundation of the graining mill was scooped out as though with a shovel. Huge sticks of
timber were thrown through the air for a quarter of a mile, small trees were uprooted,
and hurled a long distance; while larger and older trees were entirely stripped of leaves
and branches; and their trunks blackened and charred. At the foot of trees numbers of
dead birds were found, having been instantly killed by the powerful shock. A large iron
shaft four inches in diameter, led from the graining mill to another building on the south
side of the road. It was seventy-five feet long. The end nearest to the building which
exploded was bent almost double; while a portion of the shaft fifteen feet long was
broken off and hurled over 400 yards from the scene. For more than a quarter of mile
the ground is strewn with the debris. Huge timbers, blackened and splintered with
powder, heavy and long limbs of trees, and in many instances whole trees, ragged and
torn, block the paths and roads leading to spot. A storage building on the south side of
the road, distant all of 150 yards from the graining mill, was badly shattered. It
contained three tons of powder in kegs. The large door at the main entrance was blown
off, the sides of the building crushed in, and the roof greatly damaged. Fortunately, the
powder in the building did not ignite.
Of course, as soon as the danger consequent upon the terrific explosion had
passed away, there was a rush to ascertain if anyone was killed. At the time of the
occurrence there, there was only one man in the graining-mill and none in the others.
His name was Adam Schosser [?], a German. He was employed as Messrs. Smith and
Rand's service for several years, and was considered perfectly trust-worthy. He had
often asserted that he knew his business too well to be blown up. He was undoubtedly
blown high in air, some suppose 1000 feet. His head and shoulders were found at a
distance of 500-yards from the spot where the explosion occurred, mangled and torn
beyond recognition. An arm was found, lodged in the crutch of a tree, while for a
distance of a quarter of a mile pieces of flesh and parts of his limbs were found strewn
along the ground and hanging to limbs of trees. All the parts found were collected and
placed in a barrel. Coroner Thomas Bingham of Newburgh, who arrived soon after the
occurrence, empannelled a jury, and an inquest was held over about two-thirds of the
body, the jury returning a verdict in accordance with the facts.
The shock in this city was terrific. Houses were shaken to their foundation and in
many places windows were shattered. Standing in one of the streets and looking
toward the spot where the explosion occurred a huge column of smoke and dust was
seen to shoot upward fully 1000 feet into the heavens, presenting a scene grand
beyond description. A vast ring of smoke whirled far up and gradually widening in area,
was a sight never witnessed before in this vicinity. The concussion started persons who
were thus slumbering, in many cases arose trembling and anxious to know the cause.
For a distance of ten miles back, on the opposite side of the river, the explosion was
distinctly heard, while West Point, Peekskill, Sing Sing and Poughkeepsie the report
was also noticed. Three years ago a similar explosion took place at the same spot;
when one man was killed. Had the explosion of this morning occurred one hour later,
the loss of life would have been fearful, as at 7 a.m. the twenty men employed at the
works commence labor, when, in all probability, every one of them would have been
blown to pieces.-"Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser" (Queensland, Australia.), September 22, 1868
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