Kellogg Gunpowder Factory
Backstory and Context
Ironton Register Jan. 21, 1892
Last Monday morning, about 15
minutes past 8 o'clock, the earth shuddered as if from an earthquake. There was
no explosion, no sound, except the trembling of the windows and the trembling
of the house. It really seemed as if an earthquake had passed; but no, it was
the explosion of the Kellogg Powder Mills, located in West Va., between
Huntington and Ceredo, 14 miles distant from here.
This concern is composed of
several unpretentious buildings, separated from each other on consideration of
safety. The explosion took place in one of these buildings known as the Glass
mill, where there were 800 kegs of powder stored. The building was blown to
fragments. Here, Chas. Scott, and John Benton were at work, and these two were
blown to atoms. The shock of the explosion here seemed to have caused the
explosion in the other building. The Packing house, with five tons of powder,
was demolished. The Corning mill, also, was completely destroyed. The Magazine
where much powder was stored, went with a crash and so did a carload of powder
near by. The Engine house, the soda buildings, the wheel houses, in fact
everything except the office, was badly shattered.
But the loss of property was not the serious damage. There were six persons killed and a dozen more or less injured. Besides the killed named, there were, also, Arch Livingston, who was the foreman of the concern; Ed Winton, the Engineer; John Schlosser and Robert Cook.
Reece Estep, ----Kinnee, John Justice and ten others were hurt, more or less severely, but none of them fatally. There were about 30 men employed at the mills. It is not known what caused the explosion.
The scene in the neighborhood of the wreck is a sight. Pieces of the building, of kegs, of machinery are scattered everywhere. Many are the narrow escapes told, and really, it is a mystery how so many escaped.
Windows in neighboring towns were badly shaken and some glass broken three miles away. The shock of the explosion was felt 25 miles from the scene of the calamity.
There were eight buildings blown up. The glazing mill had not been acting just right, and Mr. Livingston was in there fixing it, and the probability is, that the explosion was started from this.
It is likely that the mill will not be rebuilt at its old location. The Central City Co. has been trying, for some time, to get it removed, three or four miles back in the country, but no agreement could be made. Such an arrangement is now probable. It certainly ought to be moved. This is the third time it exploded in its short career.
Ironton Register Feb. 4, 1892
Editor Register. - We do not want to condemn the Powder Mill, or interfere either by word or act with the manufacture of powder, for we regard it as a necessity. We must have an explosive substance and this seems to be best adapted to the general use. So it is not the object of this article to protest against the manufacture of it, but to object as to where it is manufactured. We give the following objections - and the grounds upon which we object. All who are acquainted any with such work, know that is is dangerous, and that it requires the strictest attention, experienced men to carry on successfully and safely the work. The material being taken from the "mixer" is placed under the wheels. Here it remains a short time and if it is not removed just at the proper time it will explode, which it very frequently does. And of course does serious damage. The glass is much more destructive however, but somewhat less liable to explode. But this must work with exactness or the men and buildings are in great peril of being blown to pieces. If the powder is put in too wet it throws it out of working order. This will give a small idea of the risk there is taken.
mill in question (the one at Kellogg) has blown up three times in the last few
months. The first and last caused great loss of both lives and property. Well
have the papers compared it to an earthquake or volcanic eruption. Terrible
must have been the concussion to break windows and hurl the clocks from their
places three miles away. Draw from this the result it would have on buildings a
quarter or half mile off. Burlington is one of the scenes of the destruction.
Behold her buildings, with her windows, sash and pane shivered to pieces or
crushed upon the inmates or floor! Fire and ashes scattered on the hearth and
carpet, and the furniture turned topsy-turvy! The whole frame work wrenched
from center to circumference and many made almost untenable! Think too of the
citizens being subjected thus to the severity of the winter.
Now to obviate such a state of affairs we must remove the cause. How is this to be done? Will the company quit making powder? No. Ought they? No. Will they build again? Yea. In the same place? They say so. Shall we willingly submit to this? Now let all rise and say no. Why? Because we have a right and it is our duty to decide thus. Pope says "Whatever is, is right" Better say "Whatever is reason, is right." This is man's law, God's law. No one will doubt the veracity of the statement that it is very reasonable and altogether right to protect ourselves and our property. Shall we virtually subject ourselves to the jaws of death without a murmur or complaint? I don't think that to be right. This surely is not a visitation of God's wrath upon us. Certainly not, for our men escaped and bear witness of the terrible event when men's bodies were torn to atoms or subjected to the flames to burn and parch.
Now, my friends, why should we have the agent of death and destruction planted in our midst. Should an army plant its artillery right in front of us and stifle its bellowing cannons in our faces, we would regard it as a very unfriendly act. I tell you we would ask them to face about or we would begin a retreat ourselves. We are so arranged. We have to face a monster more direful and not knowing all the while just when we will be prostrated to the earth. As we can not retreat in the case let's ask the company in all kindness for them to move a few paces back and give us a better show. This is right and honorable. Longfellow says, Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not the goal. He certainly was right. If the grave were the goal how willingly would we bear our bosoms to the hand of death and thus triumph in the act. But such is not the case. Shall we then stand with our arms folded and watch the work go on and not even ask the gentlemen to regard our person and our property? They probably do not know our wishes and desires. We need but to inform them and they will be to willing to grant our requests. On hearing our claims, the head manager, if he be a man of reason and whose heart is not adamant would lend an attentive ear and move that "Little Vesuvius" to the country (where no one lives) where it would have nothing save the hills and mountains to combat against.
Ironton Register Jan. 21, 1892 - Everybody thought Monday, it was only an earthquake; but they were mistaken; it was greater than an earthquake; it was a powder mill.
Ironton Register Jan. 21, 1892 - Three Burlington men were working at the Kellogg Powder Mill when it exploded, but none of them were hurt.
Ironton Register Jan. 21, 1892 - The Kellogg powder mills have already killed more people than the concern is worth, several thousand times over.
Ironton Register Jan. 21, 1892 - The shock of the Kellogg powder mill explosion was distinctly felt at Little Etna Furnace
Ironton Register JUNE 4, 1903
May Enjoin Operation of Powder Mills at Kellogg.
Says the Huntington Herald: “The Phoenix Mills at Kellogg resumed operations this morning in full, after an idleness of almost six years. These powder mills are the largest on the Ohio river and give employment to about 50 people. Huntington people are thoroughly familiar with the former operation of this mill, as explosions were of frequent occurrence, and during their three or four years of operation quite a number of people lost their lives. The management now states that with the improvements made to the plant of late, that the chances for an explosion are reduced to a minimum.
“There is much opposition to the plant’s operation from citizens living in Kellogg and Burlington, and it is rumored that a score or more damage suits will be entered in the Wayne Circuit Court before the week is over, and it is not at all improbable that an injunction will be resorted to have the plant cease operation.”