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How was the moment of the explosion determined? was it heard at Reading, or elsewhere?
11. What was the distance, and what the direction in which the boiler was thrown? and the distances and directions in which the bodies of the men killed, and the fragments of the engine were found? what was the position of the boiler when found?
12. Was any injury done to the track by which any idea of the force of the explosion can be formed?
13. What is the grade at the point where the explosion occurred? Is the road there curved, or straight? and, if curved, to what radius? 14. What load was the engine drawing when it finally left Reading? and how was it placed in the train?
15. To what pressure was the forward safety-valve adjusted? Is it known whether it worked freely in its seat?
16. What testimony can be procured from the brakesmen, or from the engineers of trains near, or from other persons, in reference to the circumstances accompanying the explosion?
17. Was there another train ahead of the Richmond? if so, with what speed was it running?
18. What were the facts in reference to the thunder-storm? did the explosion coincide in time with a flash of lightning, or had not the thunder commenced, or had it ceased, at the time of the explosion? 19. Please to procure a copy of all the evidence before the coroner's jury.
And, in fine, the committee will feel themselves under obligation to any person for any information which may tend to throw light upon the cause of this disastrous accident.
Answers to Questions on the Explosion of the "Richmond.”
1. Made first trip August 14; exploded September 2; 765 tons on a level; supposed 150 pounds.
2. Valve rod of new "cut-off gearing" too light; rod reaching from rock shaft to steam chest; altered at Messrs. Norris' works, Philadelphia, in four days.
3. Eight, four of 605 tons down, and four of 232 tons up the road, including coal and cars; supposed 120 pounds.
4. Yes: the pumps gave even more trouble than usual with a new engine; the tender pulling-bar broke, and the boiler blow-off-cock, when opened, could not be shut.
5. No: all of "Salter's" safety valves may be screwed down perfectly tight.
6. 7h. 18m. P. M.; steam low, valves not blowing off, and water high in the boiler; the evidence on this point is strongly circumstantial, not positive.
7. Both; white oak; no, the exhaust only.
8. Sixty-seven minutes; the fire-doors were not observed to be open; both valves were blowing off gently when the engine left.
9. No: except by passing slowly up the Main street of Reading; say four, or five, miles per hour for one-fourth mile; answered by No. 8.
10. Fifteen minutes; 2.02 miles; by the fixed hands of a watch in the conductor's pocket, which stopped at 8h. 40m. P. M.; not heard at Reading.
11. Suppose engine going due north; boiler thrown north-west 249 feet, conductor due north 326 feet, engineer south-east 54 feet, one fireman due north 155 feet, and the other fireman south-west 20 feet; fragments of engine scattered all around the spot of explosion; boiler lay 78 feet due west of track, and its axis about parallel with the rails.
12. The rails of the track on which the engine ran were much spread and deranged; the rails of the opposite track (double track) were broken in two places.
13. Six feet per mile, ascending; straight where engine exploded; her train lay in a curve of 3000 feet radius.
14. The engine was hauling a train of eighty-eight empty coal cars, weighing 211 tons.
15. About 120 pounds per square inch; it did.
16. The brakeman next the engine, 150 feet from her, states that he heard a sudden explosion "like a quarry blast," and that immediately the train stopped, and the cars began to pile, or rise, one over another; he is sure he saw no lightning, or heard no thunder.
17. A train left Reading one hour before the Richmond, and ran from ten to fourteen miles per hour up the road.
18. Answered in No. 16; some farmers in the neighborhood saw the explosion, but saw no lightning, nor heard any thunder; it thundered and lightened considerably before the accident, and but little after it.
Depositions of Witnesses taken before the Coroner.
Patrick McGuire, sworn.-I have been on train; saw no lightning, or thunder, at the time of the explosion; felt no shock before the report; Joseph Ward, engineer.
Matthew Smith, sworn.-I saw no lightning, or thunder, at the time of explosion; it reported as loud as a cannon.
J. S. Weber, sworn.—I live about three-fourths of a mile off from the place; I remarked to my wife they are coming with too much steam; and when the explosion took place it caused darkness; but before it was light by the sparks.
Daniel Shipp, sworn.—I was on my porch; I then remarked to my wife the cars are coming; saw no lightning at the time, or thunder, in Alsace township, county of Berks, and am satisfied that it was an explosion of the boiler.
John W. Powell sworn, brakesman.-Left Reading at about eight o'clock; when standing on my post, I saw a flash of lightning and thunder previous to the explosion, but I could very easily distinguish them, or see between the flash and the explosion of the boiler.
Thomas Cowders, sworn.-Last evening McCabe requested me to come on as brakesman on the train at about eight o'clock, or quar
ter after eight o'clock; I was sitting on the car next to the engine; I saw several flashes of lightning and thunder previous to the explosion; she had a great head of steam at the time, and blowing it off; I saw them lying there dead, and often saw Joseph Ward, and that they came to their deaths by the explosion of the boiler of the engine named Richmond.
Testimony before the Committee.
On examination by me of witnesses conversant with the circumstances attending the explosion of the Richmond engine, the following statements were given by
Mr. Kirk, foreman of the Reading workshops.-Mr. Ward had complained to him several times, that his pumps worked badly, and had given him much trouble; one pump, if it works well, is, under ordinary circumstances, more than sufficient to supply an engine with water. The storm of the 2d of September, the day on which the Richmond exploded, came from the north-west, and had passed off to the south-east, and almost entirely ceased at Reading when the Richmond left, so much so, that he had laid aside his umbrella, although it still rained slightly. The engine was not blowing off when she arrived, but did not notice if she was, or was not, when she left; was at the depot some time after; heard but little thunder, and but few and indistinct flashes of lightning to the south south-east. From the rails being wet, thinks engine would use about fifteen, or twenty, per cent. more steam than with a dry rail; lower cock about five inches above top of the fire-box; upper tube two inches below.
T. Loeser, clerk at depot.-Mr. Ward complained to him on several trips, that his pumps worked badly, and gave him much trouble.
Rigg, assistant clerk.-Was at depot taking account of cars; the rain had almost ceased when Richmond left; Ward had taken off his oil cloth overcoat; heard but very little thunder; took no notice of the state of the steam.
Philip Albright, depot hand.-Left the depot soon after the Richmond; as he was going to bed, about twenty minutes after nine, his wife, who was looking out of the window in the direction in which the engine was going, called him to look at a strange light, saying that it did not look like lightning, as it was all in one spot; she heard an explosion before he got to the window; he did not, nor did he see any light.
Joseph Spayd, of Reading-Says he is pretty sure that during the whole storm there was no lightning to the north of Reading, and is certain there was none in that direction for some hours previous to and after the explosion; he is sure of it, as he watched it, and took particular notice of it at the time; a few minutes after nine he was standing, together with several other gentlemen, on the steps of Mr. Kendal's hotel, in Reading; he saw a flash of lightning, and heard the thunder; it was far to the south-east; some ten, or twelve, minutes after, heard a report to the north; he, and those standing round, remarked that it was strange, and wondered what it could be, as it did not sound at all like thunder, but the report of a cannon; and that there was no lightning, he is himself certain there was none.
John Day, engineer.-Was at Richmond on the Sunday of the week previous to the explosion; the Richmond engine was then standing, with her boiler full of water, and no fire in her; he looked into the fire-box, and saw water running through the crown; called Mr. Ward, and both supposing it to come through a bolt hole, neither examined it particularly. Some day during the same week, Ward told him his pumps worked badly, and that he never could start them without first unscrewing and lifting the caps; he passed the Richmond on the trip up, on the 2d of September, at Pottstown; Ward was then just starting, and was engaged unscrewing the cap of his pump, in order to make it work; the Richmond worked harder, that is, made a louder exhaust, than any engine on the line, or any he ever saw; thinks it was owing to her exhaust pipes being too small.
T. Yeager, engineer of freight train behind Richmond-When she left she was blowing off at both valves, but not very hard; did not see Ward try either his gauge-cock, or his try-cock; was a short distance behind the Richmond when she exploded; heard the report, but it did not sound very loud; cannot say that he saw any light of any kind; it had lightened before, and did soon after; Mr. McCabe, the conductor of the Richmond, told him at Reading, a few minutes before starting, that on his trip down, the Saturday previous, he had been delayed about a half an hour at Manayunk tunnel, while Ward took his pumps apart, as they had given out, and refused to act.
Patrick Nugent, brakeman on the Richmond-Was sitting in about the twelfth car from the engine, with his head down; the explosion sounded like a cannon, or a quarry blast; no light was produced by it, nor was there any lightning at the time; there had been some a short time before, and was some after; did not see if steam was blowing off, or not; did not notice it at Reading; the train was delayed. near Manayunk, on its trip down on Saturday, about half an hour; he did not know the cause of it at the time, but was told next morning by one of the firemen, that the pumps had given out, and that they had been obliged to stop and fix them.
T. J. Weber, schoolmaster.-Lives from one-eighth to one-fourth of a mile to the right of the road, at the point where the engine exploded; he and his wife came out in front of his house a little while after nine, to see if they would be likely to have more rain, as it had almost ceased at that time; he says he saw the engine come out of the cut; that, although he is not very familiar with engines, he could easily perceive she was working very differently from the manner in which engines usually work; that she had a very heavy head of steam on, and was going fast; that she appeared to him like an engine trying to go faster than she was able; and that she was throwing out more sparks than he had ever seen before; it was so dark he could not see the men upon the engine, nor the escape of the steam from her valves, the only thing he could see was the sparks; he remarked to his wife that the engineer was in great danger of bursting his boiler; a moment after she exploded; he was looking at her at the time; the report was like that of a heavy piece of ordnance; there was no thunder, or lightning, nor light of any kind produced; the report
did not sound like thunder; the explosion produced no luminous appearance; the light of the sparks was instantly extinguished, and immediately after he heard the report; the thunder and lightning before and after the explosion, was to the south, and distant; there was but little after, and one clap some five or ten minutes before.
Mr. A. Hiester.-Lives about one-eighth of a mile to the right of the road at the point, when the engine exploded; was sitting in his room at the time; heard the noise of the cars approaching, and then the report of the explosion; sprang up thinking for the instant, from its sharpness and nearness, that his barn was struck with lightning; said so to Mrs. Hiester, but she replied no, that it did not sound like thunder, and that there was no lightning; but that she thought it must be an accident upon the road; Mr. H. is himself certain that there was no lightning, or light of any kind, at the time; saw some lightning to the north sometime after the explosion, not in flashes, but very faint summer sheet lightning.
William Herbst, farmer.-Was standing on Mr. Hiester's porch, together with Moses Gruber, and Reuben Richardson; saw the engine approaching with heavy head of steam; could not see if she was blowing off; was looking at her when she exploded; heard the report which sounded like a big cannon; there was no lightning, and no light produced by the explosion, but the light of the sparks was instantly extinguished; the report did not sound like thunder; there was no lightning for some time before the explosion, and that was distant, and to the south, or south-east, and but little after, and that also to the south and south-east.
Richardson.-Had just gone up stairs to go to bed; heard the report; it sounded like a cannon; is positive there was no lightning. Moses Gruber.-Was standing on the porch with Reuben Richardson, and William Herbst; saw the engine coming; had high steam; was making a great noise; and was running faster than he ever saw a coal train go before; could see nothing but the sparks; does not know if she was blowing off, or not; could not see; was looking at the engine at the time she exploded; there was no lightning, or any thing like it; the light from the sparks, which was all he could see, was, at the moment of the explosion, instantly extinguished; he could see nothing further; the report was like that of a cannon. Reuben Richardson-Testifies the same as the above. The above is a correct statement of the testimony taken by me from the persons whose names are prefixed to their declarations. ROBERT FRAZER.
Explosion of the Boiler and Steam Chimney of the Portsmouth. The Committee on Science and the Arts, constituted by the Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts, to whom was referred for examination the cause of the Explosion of the Boiler and Steam Chimney of the Steamboat Portsmouth, on the river Delaware, REPORT:
That they have carefully examined the boiler and steam chimney