The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Comet (Steamboat), boiler exploded, 21 Apr 1851


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COMET Steamer, burst her boilers, while lying at Oswego, April 22, 1851. 5 killed and 6 badly scalded.
      Casualty List for 1851
      Erik Hyle's private papers

      . . . . .

April 20, 1851. - Steamer COMET, (British) exploded and sunk in Oswego Harbor -- raised and repaired -- 8 lives lost. Property loss $25,000
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Monday, January 5, 1852
      Casualty List for 1851

      . . . . .


      Loss of the Steamer COMET, recently refitted :- while preparing to leave Port (Oswego), at 3 o'clock Monday afternoon, April 21, she exploded and sunk in 5 minutes. 5 dead, 3 missing and 2 badly burnt.
      Toronto Globe
      April 22nd., 24th. and 26th. April, 1851

      . . . . .
     
      SAD DISASTER.
      Serious Loss Of Life!!
The new and splendid Canadian steamer COMET, Capt. A. O'Conner, came in yesterday morning from Hamilton, and after discharging 1,200 barrels of flour at the Custom House dock, she took a clearance for Kingston, and at about 3 o¹clock P.M., after a few revolutions of her engines, while swinging round in the river, her larboard boiler burst, making a complete wreck of the forward part of the boat. Nearly the entire
upper works, forward of the wheel houses, were blown off, and she immediately filled, and sunk to her guards, in about 9 feet of water, at the dock.
James Carroll, the 2d Engineer, was killed instantly. C. Hennesy, Carpenter, and John D. Wire, deck hand, are missing; they were doubtless blown into the river and lost. Royal Davis, 1st Engineer, is badly scalded and bruised. John O¹Conner, waiter, is badly scalded, and is supposed cannot survive. A boy by the name of James Church, waiter, is also badly scalded, and cannot survive. Three others, Daniel McGuire, Thomas Regans, and James Eriel, are more or less injured, the two former seriously. Capt. O¹Conner was upon the upper deck, working the boat out, at the time of the explosion, and received some slight injury.
The body of the 2d Engineer was taken to the Market building, upon which we understand a Coroner¹s inquest was to be held. The wounded were taken to the Frontier House, where they are well cared for.
To what caused the disaster is to be ascribed, we are unable to say. As in all similar cases, there is a variety of opinions, but it is generally believed that the boiler must have been defective. We regard the disaster as the first that ever happened in our harbor, and one that never happened to an American boat on Lake Ontario.
P.S. John O'Conner, one of the waiters, died last evening. It so happened that there were no passengers on board at the time of the accident.
      Oswego Daily Times
      Tuesday, April 22, 1851

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      DREADFUL STEAMBOAT ACCIDENT AND LOSS OF LIFE
      Oswego, April 21.--3 P.M.
As the British steamer COMET, with a full head of steam on, prepared to leave this port, her boiler exploded, tearing out the center of the boat, throwing her smoke pipes overboard, and injuring her so severely that she sunk in five minutes. Second Engineer, Carpenter and one of the deck hands are missing---supposed to be drowned. First Engineer and five deck hands very badly scalded. The Captain was on deck and was thrown below, but slightly injured. The boat now lies a perfect wreck in nine feet of water.
      The body of one of the hands has just been taken from the hold, but is not recognized.
      (by the O'Reilly Bain Line) Oswego, April 21 P.M.
      At about a quarter past three o"clock this afternoon the beautiful steamboat COMET, of Kingston, which arrived this morning, was just turning in the harbor, on her way out, when her larboard boiler exploded with tremendous force blowing the former part to atoms and throwing the timbers in every direction. There were providentially no passengers on board at the time. Four men and one boy were blown into the river and were taken out badly injured, having been several scalded. Some of them it is feared, cannot recover.
      The captain, it is said, was blown some twenty feet into the river, but was fortunately uninjured. One dead body has been recovered, the second engineer, and three others are missing and no doubt killed--the carpenter, cook and one deck hand.
      Mr. Davis, the engineer, is very much bruised and scalded, and it is thought he cannot live. We cannot learn any particulars in relation to the amount of damage. It must be very considerable. She immediately sunk to her guards. The boat was owned by McPherson & Crane, Kingston.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      April 22, 1851

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STEAMBOAT EXPLOSION AT OSWEGO--SERIOUS LOSS OF LIFE.---We learn from the Oswego papers of yesterday, that the new Canadian steamer COMET burst her boiler in the harbor of that place, on Monday afternoon. She came in that morning from Hamilton, and after discharging 1200 barrels of flour at the Custom House Dock, she took a clearance for Kingston; and at about 3 o'clock P.M., after a few revolutions of her engine while swinging around in the river, her larboard boiler burst, making a complete wreck of the forward part of the boat. Nearly the entire upper works, forward of the wheel house, were blown off, and she immediately filled and sunk to her guards, in about 9 feet of water, at the dock.
      James Carroll, the 2d Engineer, was killed instantly. C. Hennesy, Carpenter and John D. Wire, deck hand, are missing, they were doubtless blown into the river and lost. Royal Davis, 1st.Engineer, is badly scalded and bruised, John O'Conner, waiter, is badly scalded, is supposed cannot survive. A boy by the name of James Church, waiter, is also badly scalded, and cannot survive. Three others, Daniel McGuire, Thomas Regans and James Friel, are more or less injured, the two former, seriously. Capt. O'Conner was upon the upper deck, working the boat out, at the time of the explosion, and received some slight injury.
The body of the 2d Engineer was taken to the Market building, upon which, we understand a Coroner's inquest was to be held. The wounded were taken to the Frontier House, where they were well cared for. To what the disaster is attributed, is not known. P.S.-- O'Conner, the waiter mentioned above, died on Monday evening.
      Syracuse (N.Y.) Standard
      April 23, 1851
      . . . . .


      THE DISASTER TO THE STEAMER COMET.--The accounts we published yesterday, of the shocking disaster on board the steamer COMET in the harbor of that place, was as we learn from the Oswego papers, in some particulars incorrect. The boat was not a new one, but recently refitted and painted. Her boiler had been in use since è1834, but had been pronounced in good condition by one of the best engineers in Canada. She was owned by McPherson and Crane, and was hitherto run between Hamilton and Quebec, as a passenger boat.
The names of the dead are, Royal Davis, 1st.Engineer; James Carroll, 2d Engineer; John O'Conner, waiter, about 17 years of age; James Church, waiter, about 16, and Thomas Quiggins, fireman.
      Of the crew of the boat, there are three missing,viz: Coleman Hennesey, deck hand; Soha Dwier, do, and a colored man, cook, who was last season a cook on the steamer MAYFLOWER, up on Lake Erie. These are supposed to have been blown in the river and to be lost, making a total loss of eight persons. Daniel McGuire, cook and James Friel, waiter, who were more or less injured, it is thought will recover.
The wives of the two Engineers, and other friends of the dead arrived by the CATARACT, from Kingston, Tuesday P.M. The bodies of the dead were deposited in the upper room of the City Hall, and a Coroner's inquest was held, and in session most of the day, and a large number of people congregated in and about the building. The bodies were to be taken to Kingston by the down steamer yesterday morning. The following is the finding of the Coroner's Jury:- That John Davis, James Corroll, John O'Conner, James Church and Thomas Quiggins, came to their death by scalding from the explosion of a boiler in the Canadian steamer COMET, in the Oswego Harbor, on the 21st. day of April, 1851, about 3 o'clock P.M.; which explosion we believe to have been caused for the want of a sufficient quantity of water in the boiler. It was proved before the jury that the two Engineers who lost their lives, were men of good habits, the one having charge of the exploded boiler, being strictly a temperance man.
      Syracuse (N.Y.) Standard
      April 24, 1851
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THE ACCIDENT AT OSWEGO.---We learn from the Oswego Times that five of the persons injured by the steamboat explosion have died, and that three are missing. Total number of lives lost--eight--all of whom belonged to the boat. The cause of the explosion is unknown. It is the first that has ever occurred on lake Ontario.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      April 26, 1851


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: boiler exploded
Lives: 8
Hull damage: $25,000
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original:
1851
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.9463
Language of Item:
English
Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.45535 Longitude: -76.5105
Donor:
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Comet (Steamboat), boiler exploded, 21 Apr 1851