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1896 - Dynamite Exploded in Water-Works Aqueduct at Clinton

Dynamite Exploded in Water-Works Aquaduct at Clinton.

Four men were killed and one was fatally injured by an explosion of dynamite in the tunnel of shaft No. 2. Metropolitan water-works aqueduct, at Clinton, Saturday afternoon. The dead are ANDREW KELLY, 35, of Jersey City; JAMES PERRY, colored, 30, of North Carolina; SPENCER BURDEN, colored, 30, of Mississippi; WILLIAM GREEN, colored, 27, of Apple Grove, Va. The injured man is James Foley, 38, of Homestead, Pa. KELLY, PERRY, and GREEN were killed instantly. BURDEN lived four hours. Foley has had a bad fracture of the skull and a deep would in the abdomen.

Shaft No. 2 is on the edge of Clinton and West Berlin, on Clamshell pond. It is 100 feet deep to the bottom of the tunnel. From the shaft the tunnel extends east and west 150 feet through black rock. The accident was in the west shaft. The day shift at 5 p. m. had drilled 22 holes, six feet deep, into the rock and in each hole was placed six pounds of dynamite. The foreman adjusted the wires and the gang went to the surface. Two sections of the blast, about 14 holes, were successfully fired.

The men went into the shaft to adjust the wires for the third on and had hardly reached the bottom before the explosion occurred which dealt death to four of them. The men in the east shaft, not getting the customary signal that everything was all right, rushed to the west tunnel and met Foley, who fell in their arms exclaiming: "Great heavens, the dynamite went off." He was taken to the top and physicians were sent for while Foreman Peter McAtee led 15 men in search of the other men. GREEN and PERRY, two drillmen, were found dead, surrounded by debris. GREEN's body was mutilated, but PERRY's seemed uninjured, except for burns.

BURDEN was alive when found, though both legs were gone. He was taken to the top, and died on the way to the hospital. ANDREW KELLY, the boss, was found buried and crushed under tons of rock. Foley, when taken to the hospital, was conscious, and said he did not know how the accident happened. The boss sent him back to the foot of the tunnel for the wire, and he had just left the blast when it went off. The doctors say Foley cannot live. Foreman McAtee says he is unable to account for the accident. Workmen say a heavy shower was just coming up, and that the lightening may have struck the dynamite. Others believe that heat from the second blast set off the third just as the men got to it. The bodies of the dead men are at the undertaking rooms of Martin Murphy in Clinton. Medical Examiner T. H. O'Connor has not yet made a report.

The Fitchburg Sentinel
Fitchburg, Massachusetts
September 21, 1896

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