The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 11 Oct, 1883

Full Text

The following is an extract from the evidence of Wm. H. Cabot, second mate of the Colorado, given on Tuesday in the investigation into the cause of the recent boiler explosion: The witness had seen the engineer and the greaser at work at the safety valve. Couldn't be sure what they were doing, but heard the engineer order a man away from below them, as something might drop on his head. Lovett (Chief Engineer) got the engine on the center a couple of times, and it had to be pried off. That was what had sent deponent to see what was the matter. Finally a tug was called to take the Colorado out of the harbor.

"Did the steam come out in puffs or in a steady flow?" asked Mr. Van Valkenburg, repeating the question put to the others.

"It came out steadily," was the reply. "It would stop now and then, but not as though it was exhausted, but as though it had been smothered down."

"Can you tell how the explosion appeared to you?"

"The only thing I know was that I had a feeling that there was something wrong behind me, and the next moment I landed against the forecastle door. I didn't think I was much burned then. I helped get the injured men out and made the vessel fast when she reached the dock. When I picked Lovett up he wanted to sit down and I had to scold him to keep him up. He says he was cooked all through."

When asked what Lovett said when asked what he was doing when the boiler exploded the witness hesitated as though not knowing what expression to use, began once or twice and then stopped. He then said that Lovett's words were; "I was sitting on the safety valve."

Media Type:
Item Type:
A boiler explosion on board the propeller COLORADO off Buffalo in early October, 1883 killed or injured a number of crewmen. An inquiry into the matter revealed the following. In simple form, a boiler safety or blowoff valve was just a heavy cap placed over an open standpipe from the boiler. The heavier the cap (or the stronger the springs holding it), the higher the pressure would be allowed to rise in the boiler.
Date of Original:
11 Oct, 1883
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 11 Oct, 1883