1911 - EXPLOSION TIES UP AND DARKENS A CITY. Power House of Electric Co. In Minneapolis Destroyed by Short Circuit of 13,000 Volts. ELEVEN MEN NEAR DEATH.
Blinding Flashes and Deafening Crashes Continuous - Streets Unlighted - Newspapers Use Hand Presses.
MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 6. - An explosion and fire which destroyed the main plant of the General Electric Company early to-day, injured three men, caused a loss of $750,000, and seriously interfered with business throughout the city during the day, left the city to-night in almost total darkness. Several office buildings got power for light and elevators from the street railway company and flour mills until 11 o'clock, but after that time all power was turned off. No street lamps were lighted and all save the main section of the city was without electric light all right.
Fearing that the darkness of the city may induce lawlessness, the entire police and detective force is held in reserve with waiting automobiles.
The General Electric Company has 500 men making arrangements so that the power from the company's plants in Taylor's Falls can be used.
The escape of eleven men who were at work at the time of the accident was a source of wonderment. On their way to the mill race, through which they escaped, they were compelled to pick their way through a mass of charged and tangles wires, with flames burning all around them and bricks and debris tumbling down on all sides.
The explosion, which plunged the city into darkness and almost paralyzed the commercial life of the city, was in the "13,000 wire" leading into the power plant at Third Avenue, Southeast, and main Street. A tangled mass of wire machinery was thrown in every direction by the explosion. Fire, which followed, completed the demolition.
Three separate explosions were accompanied by ear-splitting cracks and vivid display of blue electric flame. There is little left of the power plant beyond the charred wreckage level with the water in the river.
Blinding arcs of electricity powerful enough to bore through steel girders rent the air, igniting coal gas in the boiler room and communicating with twenty dynamos on the top floor. Cables slapped and writhed, wheels ground and whizzed. Lights were all extinguished and for a minute the building was outlined by ghastly blue light.
Among the more seriously hit by the loss of power were the newspapers which are dependent on electric power to run their plants. One newspaper used a hand press of pioneer days, and on it issued a one-page extra. The papers got power from a neighboring plant later.
The New York Times
New York, New York
January 7, 1911
Visit Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Discover the people who lived there, the places they visited and the stories they shared.