Photos: The Locomotive
In the 1800s and into the early 1900s, boiler explosions were a common occurrence.
Across the U.S., there were 499 boiler explosions reported in 1911, accounting for 222 deaths and 416 injuries, according to statistics from the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Co. as reported by the Journal of The Cleveland Engineering Society, May 1913.
Colorado wasn't immune.
A boiler blast at the Gumry Hotel in downtown Denver led to a collapse and fire that killed 22 people in 1895, and an explosion at a steel plant in Pueblo claimed several more lives in 1911.
On June 16, 1909, Denver was plunged into darkness when a boiler exploded at the power plant of the Denver Gas and Electric Co. at Sixth and Curtis streets.
A dispatch in that day's Daily Shield of Mansfield, Ohio said:
"So terrific was the explosion that the heavy boiler was thrown high into the air. It crashed through the roof of the plant and completely wrecked the generator and roof and walls. ... The electric lights were cut off for more than two hours and the city was in darkness."
Four people were killed immediately.
Several others were injured.
Ill-fated Boiler No. 17, located on the Curtis street side of the plant, was estimated to have been airborne for 20 seconds, rocketing to an altitude of 1,659 feet. It came to rest 175 feet from its original location.
The boiler was being brought back on line after repairs to brickwork ordered by a city inspector.
The machine provided 400-horse power, was of water-tube construction and designated a "safety boiler," according to The Locomotive, trade publication of Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co., July 1909.