Window to the Past
Area Explosions in the News
By BOB HOLDGREVE
Nitroglycerine Magazine went up at Lima — Shock felt in Delphos — Plainly.
At 3:45 o’clock Saturday afternoon, a shock was felt in Delphos, accompanied by a report like a terrific explosion had occurred nearby. People in the vicinity of the Herald office thought the explosion had occurred in this office, and flocked in this direction. People in the business houses on Main street thought it was on the canal bank and hurried out to investigate. The jar was very perceptible and caused excitement all over town. A few windows were cracked.
It was soon learned that a nitroglycerine magazine near Lima had went up, but particulars were not obtained for several hours.
The shock was caused by the explosion of a magazine near the Producer’s Explosive Company manufactory, 3 miles south-west of Lima. The plant had been shut down for the holidays, and James Reddick, of Findlay, president of the Producer’s Company, drove to the plant to see if everything was all right, and to put a padlock on the door. How the stuff was set off will never be known, as Reddick’s body was blown to atoms. Pieces of flesh and clothing in small pieces were found. Mr. Reddick leaves a wife and child in Findlay.
The shock did great damage in Lima, hundreds of window panes being broken, chimneys knocked off and in many instances, plastering shaken from ceilings and walls of residences nearest the plant.
Mr. Reddick had hitched his horse in front of the acid building, about 60 feet from the magazine which was completely demolished. The acid building was wrecked and the buggy torn to pieces, and not a hair of the horse was harmed, but the explosion had deafened the animal. Not even a splinter could be found of the building, while over a distance of nearly an acre, the tall timber was destroyed, some trees being torn up by the roots. South of the magazine, 600 feet, stood a store house. Most of the boards on it were torn off. At the foot of the hill was the factory which was below the force of the explosion, but it lost a number of boards. Over a thousand feet away, Harry Neely was drilling a well for the Ohio company. He was knocked down and the north side of the derrick was blown in. A large hole was torn in the ground, and hundreds visited the scene.
Delphos Herald — Dec. 28, 1900
Added Notes from the Delphos Courant
The explosion was heard and felt very plainly by our people. Some thought it a boiler explosion; others a shot in a stone quarry; others an earthquake. Buildings shook, windows rattled as once before, showing the awful power of the stuff. Nobody will ever know how it happened.
Dec. 26, 1900
(Another explosion S.W. of Lima about 22 months after earlier explosion at same factory. Curiously, no mention was made of earlier explosion R.H.)
The factory and magazine blew up, and some people in Delphos felt the shock. Glass rattled, much being broken, and large structures trembled. The Producers company plant is located on the John Berryman farm, a quarter mile east of McBeth’s park. It is in a heavy timbered field and ravine. Had the blow been on level ground, its force would have been trebled. The factory was in charge of Frank Alspaugh and Earl Bush, both expert men. Both were killed.
Delphos Herald — Oct. 9, 1902
Blew a Safe
Gang of Robbers Shook Up Middle Point
Safe crackers made a raid on the little town of Middle Point, at an early hour Sunday morning. A small safe in the grocery store of A.A. Manship was blown open, the cracks of the door being stopped up with soap and nitroglycerine poured in. The safe was almost demolished and the effect of the explosion did much damage to the store. The thieves secured $25.
They then broke into the office of Mr. France, the stone quarryman, but got nothing for their pains, but remained a while and ate bananas taken from the Manship store. The gang also forced entrance to the post office, but secured nothing.
Delphos Herald — Dec. 28, 1900
Yeggs blow the Jefferson School Safe
Professionals are believed to have been responsible for the blowing of a safe at the Jefferson school sometime Tuesday night.
It was found Wednesday morning that entrance to the building had been gained by forcing a window in the gymnasium and that the office of the board of education had been entered.
The door of the safe was blown completely off. Soap used to seal the charge was spattered over the wall but no other damage was done. About $76 in cash was taken from the safe. A revolver, used by the timer in athletic events, and a stop-watch were also taken.
No definite decision has been made as to whether the safe will be repaired, but likely not. School officials state that all funds will be banked daily and that none will be allowed to remain overnight hereafter.
Delphos Herald — Sept. 16, 1931
Boiler of Clover Leaf Engine No. 58 Let Go While at Continental
A double fatality, which will go down as one of the most horrible affairs that ever happened on the Clover Leaf, occurred at Continental, a station about 20 miles north of Delphos, at about 9 o’clock Thursday night, when two well known Delphos people lost their lives.
About 6 o’clock, the freight train left the shops here, bound for Toledo. The train pulled onto a siding at Continental to allow a north bound passenger train to pass by. There is where the horrible accident occurred.
After the passenger train had left the station, Engineer Majors was given a signal to back onto the main track. He reversed the engine and gave it steam when the long string of freight cars began to move. When about two hundred feet from the depot, without any warning, the boiler let go, and the engine was blown to atoms.
The explosion so shook the town that a crowd quickly gathered and discovered the cars were on fire. Attention was at once turned to search for the engineer and fireman. The dead body of the unfortunate engineer, Chas. Majors, was soon found under the second box car. Both arms and one leg were blown off.
It was nearly three quarters of an hour before the body of Fireman James C. Smith was found. His dinner pail, coat and other clothing were found scattered about, and last the body was discovered in a cornfield more than 50 rods away. Mr. Smith’s body was thrown up into the air and when found was lying between two rows of corn with none of the stalks being broken, which would indicate that the body was thrown high in the air and came nearly straight down. The remains of both of the men were picked up and given the best of care until Undertaker Bergfeld arrived from Delphos and took them in charge.
The iron monster was literally blown to atoms, leaving only a portion of the pilot and pieces that fell to the side. Many parts of the engine have not been located.
The tender and car of cattle next to it were but little damaged. Conductor Lytle was proceeding to the engine, intending to ride on the head end, and had reached within 3 car lengths from the locomotive, when he changed his mind and turned toward the caboose and had only gone a short distance when the accident happened, but for the silent warning, he too would have been a victim.
L. Miller, of Toledo, the head brakeman was standing at the switch, only a short distance from the engine, was not injured. The dome of the engine was blown several rods and dropped onto a barn, crashing through the roof and demolishing a buggy. A woman on a sick bed, two houses away, was blown across the room. The telegraph wires were broken and a portable telegraph instrument was borrowed from the Nickel Plate office to convey the sad news.
Delphos Herald — July 25, 1902
An Oil Well near Lima
Ten days after the initial strike, in hopes of breaking up the underground rock and increasing the flow of oil, it was decided to "shoot" the well with a charge of nitroglycerin. A huge crowd thronged the nearby bridge and railroad embankment to see the show, and those in charge, had a job to keep all the cigar smokers at a safe distance.
Shortly after the charge was dropped down the well, a column of oil shot 75 feet into the air.
Allen County History — 1900
During the electrical storm Sunday evening, lightning struck a telephone pole in South Delphos, and played havoc with some of the phones in that suburb. The electric current ran along the wire into the home of Fred Minzing, where the phone was broken to pieces and part of the door casing torn off the door. A large mirror across the room was shattered and Minzing and his family were badly shocked.
From there the bolt ran along the wire into McKenzie’s grocery and demolished the phone there. It was then carried along the wire to the home of Jas. Harter, the veterinary surgeon, where some of the weather boarding was torn off and the screen door broken. The phone there was not injured.
Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Bryan were walking directly in front of the Minzing house when the flash came, and were carrying an umbrella. Mr. and Mrs. Bryan were both holding the umbrella and received a severe shock. Mr. Bryan recovered shortly but his wife was rendered unconscious for a time.
She was carried to the home of her father, Wm. Stopher, and Dr. Jackson was called. He worked with the unfortunate lady for some time before he pronounced her out of danger. He called again Monday and found the patient had recovered slightly but still remained flighty and very nervous. A number of other phones were burned out by the bolt.
Delphos Herald — July 1, 1902
Elgin Gas Pipe Line Explosion
Ohio Highway Patrol, expected to investigate the propane gas explosion which killed one person and injured nine others, just southwest of Elgin, early Saturday morning.
Sparks from a passing Erie Lackawana freight train reportedly ignited leaking gas from a nearby Buckeye Pipe Line, triggered the blast.
The explosion leveled the home of Mrs. Priscella Rigden, killed 9-year-old Nancy Rigden and injured nine. Mr. Charles Rigden died in an auto accident in May of 1964.
The explosion, which was heard nearly 75 miles away, and the flames shot skyward and devastated nearly a 100 acre area. The Merril Wilkins residence, about 500 yards from the Rigden home, was shifted from its foundation.
Sheriff’s deputies said motorists on U.S. 30, reported seeing a fireball as far as 40 miles away.
Delphos Herald — Aug. 23, 1965
Compiled by Robert Holdgreve
Delphos Historical Society
February 19, 2005 Delphos Herald Newspaper