100 years later in York, Jumbo’s terrible roar remembered – Part II
A piece of a boiler from the York Rolling Mill’s 1908 explosion flew several blocks before crashing into a home on North Queen Street. The piece went through the roof and hit a dresser in a bedroom, according to a newspaper report. Background posts: 100 years later in York, Jumbo’s terrible roar remembered – Part I, Additional York Corporation (York International) stories and Glatfelter, Morgan Smith head industrial legacy list.
The blast rocked York County and beyond 10 years ago.
Four tanks containing a mixture of pressurized air and refrigerant blew up shortly before midnight on Feb. 2, 1998 at York International, now Johnson Controls.
At that time, York College’s William Kreiger told the York Daily Record/Sunday News that an explosion such at that at York International is like a truck barreling down the highway pushing air out of its way… .
“Except it’s pushing air out in every direction,” he said. “And it’s moving extremely fast. It’s very much like a domino effect.”
The blast at York International, previously know as York Corporation and Borg-Warner, took the life of worker Dennis Stough.
It was one of the most-discussed around York since the York Rolling Mill explosion of 1908, a blast that took 10 lives.
Community members reacted to that massive explosion of 100 years ago, as found in the York Daily Record/Sunday News (9/7/08):
Skinny Dipper’s memory
Raymond Jacob Sechrist recalled the blast at the York Rolling Mill in his 1991 book “Skinny Dipping in the Codorus.”
Here’s what he had to say about it:
“We kids were playing in the basement of one of the houses down on Water Street at the time. We heard this terrific blast and rushed out like kids would and the neighbors started coming out to see what happened. Nobody knew, because the blast was about a mile away.
“A little later on, we had gone back in and started playing again when we heard the train whistles. Oh, they were blowing and blowing and we thought, ‘What’s going on?’ We kids stopped playing again and after awhile a pusher engine — one that pushes the cars around in the yard — came rushing by with the whistle open and blowing all the time. It came up through Water Street and had one box car on it. In that box car were some of the injured people being taken up to York Hospital. York Hospital was there by the College Avenue bridge at that time.
“. . . About a half-hour later, here came another shifter with another box car. They might have made three or four trips that way until they got all the injured men from this blast up to the hospital.”
The headlines in “The York Gazette” proclaimed “BOILER EXPLOSION AT YORK ROLLING MILL KILLS 9 MEN; 20 INJURED” the day after the blast. Here’s a scene described in the article:
“Men who happened to be in the neighborhood say they heard a great noise like that of an explosion of dynamite. Looking toward the rolling mill, they saw a huge cloud of dust that looked like smoke. Then they heard a crashing of timbers and they saw the centre of the big mill sink down to the earth. This mass had sunk upon nearly two score of workmen and the hurried search soon revealed the imprisoned men beneath.”
The Rev. G.W. Enders, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, preached on the explosion during an evening church service the following Sunday. Here’s what he had to say:
“York has been visited by a terrible calamity within the past few days. Ten men were killed and there are widows and orphans to mourn, while there are others crippled and some, perhaps, will never get over it.
“. . . Mine explosions, railroad wrecks, boiler explosions are becoming so common as to excite comparatively little notice. The tendency of the times is to have little regard for life and limb, but to look to the piling up of money.”
– Photo courtesy York County Heritage Trust.