Washburn Times July 16, 1925
Terrific Blast Wrecks Buildings at DuPont Powder Works
A terrific explosion completely demolished nitroglycerin storage house number two and mixing house number two at the plant of the DuPont Co. at Barksdale at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday noon, caused by a bolt of lightning during a slight electrical storm. Luckily there was no loss of lives, although 11 workman were slightly injured by flying glass and splinters and were brought to the Washburn Hospital for treatment, while others were shocked and frightened.
Had the explosion occurred while the buildings were in operation there would have been loss of life, but luckily the men were in the change house eating their noonday lunch, and those injured were cut by flying glass and splinters.
The explosion occurred at just 12:15 o’clock. There was a flash of lightning, a puff of smoke, followed by a terrific roar and a dense cloud of smoke and debris was thrown into the air which could be seen for miles and people who rushed out of doors were immediately aware that an explosion of some kind had occurred.
Anxious wives and mothers, who have husbands and sons employed at the plant, rushed about the street wringing their hands and inquiring anxiously of everyone as to whom had been hurt and killed, and finally a report came through from the plant that no one had been seriously injured, which dispelled fear for a time until the cut and injured men began arriving at the hospital.
Guards were immediately stationed around Barksdale to prevent sightseeing individuals from getting into the plant and for this reason stories spread thick and fast as to the probable number killed or injured, but soon correct stories began to come through showing that no one had been seriously hurt.
The damage done to buildings at the plant was extremely heavy. The buildings where the explosions occurred were blown to atoms and nothing marks the spot where they stood except a hole in the ground, while heavy damage is also done to the shell house and dope house and the oil lines running through the ravine. At the main office windows were broken and plaster was shaken from the wall, while in most of the buildings on the plant windows were broken.
The force of the explosion could be plainly felt in Washburn and Ashland where buildings were rocked and at the Charles Howarth residence in this city a table is reported to have been overturned by the blast, but little damage is reported at either place.
Despite the highly explosive nature of the product manufactured by the DuPont Co. at the Barksdale plant explosions have been few and far between in the number of major accidents has been very light compared to other manufacturing plants.
Yeah, well, unfortunately, things didn’t always turn out so favorably at the big plant just outside of Washburn: over its 70 years of operation, 36 men were killed in explosions and other accidents. There’s a small monument to them in the city cemetery.
I’ll be doing a program on the history of the Barksdale works as part of the Tony Woiak History Festival on August 21.