Maritime History of the Great Lakes

Medora (Steamboat), explosion, 26 Apr 1842

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      We sicken at heart whilst we record for the first time, the destruction of life, by the blowing-up of a steamboat in our harbor. Whilst almost every section of the country where steamboats are employed, have recorded dreadful calamities and loss of life from steamboat explosions, we until the present time have been saved the melancholy task---but our record is now filled with death,---it is a fearful one, even to recount, and understandably painful to have witness. Our heart bleeds as we perform our duty as chroniclers of the times, and we sincerely sympathize with the afflicted relatives of those who have so suddenly been swept from time into eternity.
      The steamboat MEDORA, Captain Sutton, built for the Norfolk Line, was about to start on a trial trip when the sad accident occurred. The afternoon being pleasant, a number of persons, invited to witness the performance of this splendidly built boat, assembled on board to the amount of about one hundred and upwards, and had backed from the wharf about one hundred yards, when the boiler (the boat had but one, and that of immense dimension) exploded, scattering death and destruction in every direction. The explosion was tremendous, blowing off the upper deck, and carrying with it, every person on it at the time, some fell in the water and were drowned, others were blow upon the land. Mr.Vickers was among the latter. It is rumored, and we fear there is too much ground for the rumour, that a number of persons were in the forward cabins at the time, and as the boat sunk immediately after the explosion, they have perished.
After the explosion, the basin, the boats lying near at the time and the wharf were literally covered with fragments of the unfortunate MEDORA, Which now lies a sunken and complete wreck.
We have not been able amid the confusion and distress, the crowd, about a thousand or more, to give a full detail of the disaster, but we have given enough to harrow the feelings and bring fourth the tears of every sympathetic heart.
      Cleveland Plain Dealer
      Wed. April 27, 1842 p.1 col.5

MEDORA'S hulk was rebuilt into the Steamer HERALD at Baltimore, Md. in 1842.

NOTE:- It appears that this casualty did not take place on the Great Lakes ?????

Media Type
Item Type
Reason: explosion
Lives: 8
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Maryland, United States
    Latitude: 39.29038 Longitude: -76.61219
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Medora (Steamboat), explosion, 26 Apr 1842