The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
M. Fannie Stafford (Propeller), boiler exploded, 19 Jun 1865

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The tug FANNY STAFFORD exploded her boiler this morning, killing one man and injuring three others. The boat was valued at $18,000.
      Erie Daily Dispatch
      Tuesday, June 20, 1865

      . . . . .

      The Tug "FANNY STAFFORD" Literally Blown into Kindling Wood
      One man Killed and the Rest of the Crew Injured.
      From the Chicago Journal, June 19.
At five minutes past twelve o’clock noon to-day, occurred one of the most violent and disastrous explosions ever known in the city. The tug "Fanny Stafford," commanded by Captain James Ogden, was coming down the river with a schooner in tow, and when in the bend of the stream, just below Lake street bridge, her boiler suddenly exploded, literally breaking the entire tug into small fragments, everything above the keel going instantly to pieces, filling the air and the river with flying timbers and splinters. The boiler was thrown upwards and towards the south side docks, going over the top of a five-story brick building then across South Water street, landing on the roof of a four-story brick building at the junction of South Water and Lake and Market streets, where it crashed through two floors and lodged. The streets, wharves and shipping were immediately covered with excited and immense crowds of people, all anxious to learn the results of so frightful a casualty.
On the tug, besides Captain Ogden, were the engineer, fireman and two wheelsmen. The three latter and the captain were blown into the river, and were soon after picked up, bruised, cut and, some say, scalded, but not in a condition that our informant considered dangerous, though severe. In truth, in the excitement that exists, it is almost impossible to tell to what extent they were injured, rumor giving many different versions of the whole affair. The engineer was a recent shipment on the tug, and the agent of the boat did not know his name. He was probably killed on the instant, and when we left the scene his body had not been recovered. The wonder is that all on board were not killed outright.
      Detroit Free Press
      June 22, 1865

      . . . . .

      FANNIE STAFFORD, prop. of 42 tons. Built 1863 at Buffalo. Exploded June 19, 1865 at Chicago. No lives lost.
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S. A.
      1790 - 1868, Lytle, Holdcamper List

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: boiler exploded
Lives: 1
Hull damage: $18,000
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Illinois, United States
    Latitude: 41.85003 Longitude: -87.65005
William R. McNeil
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M. Fannie Stafford (Propeller), boiler exploded, 19 Jun 1865