Another Terrible Steamboat Accident

The Cincinnati Gazette of the 5th inst. gives the account of one of the most terrific steamboat explosions which has ever taken place. The steamboat Redstone lately commenced running between Cincinnati and Madison, and on Saturday at 12 M. left the latter place took Cincinnati on a trial of speed with about twenty cabin passengers. The number on deck is not known. The officers and crew numbered about twenty persons. She landed at Carrolton and took on a number of passengers, and then pushed out and started on. Upon arriving at Scott's Landing, four miles above Carrolton, at the foot of Craig’s Bar, she was called in for a passenger, the Rev. Perry A. Scott, a Baptist minister, formerly stationed in Covington, and recently in Warsaw, Ky. Mr. Scott had been on a visit to his parents, and was returning to his charge. His parents and three sisters accompanied him to the landing to witness the departure, as the sequel proved, into the presence of his God.

The Redstone shoved out and backed down from the landing about one hundred yards. A strong wind was blowing in shore, and it was with difficulty that she could back her way out. At the second revolution she made to start forward, her three boilers exploded at the same time, with a tremendous noise, shattering and tearing the boat literally to atoms. She sunk in less than three minutes, in twenty feet water. The ladies’ cabin and aft part of the boat, from the main-deck up, in its shattered condition, took fire and burned down to the water’s edge. In the explosion her chimneys were blown nearly across the river The awful force of the explosion can be conceived from the fact that a large piece of one of the boilers was blown half a mile, lacking five or six yards, from the wreck. Eleven bodies were blown into a cornfield at some distance from the water. Among them, those of the first and third engineers.

The people of Carrolton and the vicinity hurried to the scene; and twenty-five dead and wounded bodies were immediately borne to a small farm-house on top of the hill which rises back of the river, and which was converted into a hospital. The inmates of this house gave up their rooms, bedding, and every thing in their possession to the suffering. The scene here beggars all description. The mangled and ghastly corpses by the side of the wounded and dying, with inadequate medical aid and means for the care of the latter, the floor of the rooms covered deep with blood; this, and the view of the scattered wreck and the awe-stricken multitude on the shore below, made up a scene of horror before which the intensest paintings of Sue and Dickens pale and grow dim. The river for some distance below Carrolton was strewn with the fragments of the boat, machinery, furniture, and clothing.—Small pieces of bedding and clothing were found at the distance of very nearly half a mile back from the river, while the trees along the shore were littered with the fragments of the same and of the wreck. The cause of this explosion is very evident; it was recklessness, that culpable public, and, let us say, legalized murderer. Almost every week we have to record some such calamity.

Within three weeks, no less than100 persons have lost their lives by steamboat explosions on the river between Cincinnati and New Orleans. All the laws which have been enacted, and all the safety-valves which have been invented have failed to reduce the number of explosions—there are just as many now as ever. We speak of these explosions frequently, our readers will see that we do it from principle, or we would not take up so much room in our columns with such as subject, but while our people are sent in scores into eternity every week by explosions, be-cause they trust their lives to engineers and steamboat captains, we cannot hold our tongue—and will not.

Our government in their zeal for the lives of some American sailors, cruelly treated in Japan, are said to be fitting out an expedition to punish those Asiatics; this shows a zeal for something more than a humane principle, or why is our citizens at home allowed to be killed so recklessly by such terrible explosions as that of the Redstone.


Scientific American, April 17, 1852