Archive for Thursday, July 28, 2016

100 years ago: Lawrence canning factory demolished by fire

July 28, 2016

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From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for July 28, 1916:

  • "Fire destroyed the factory and its contents belonging to the Kaw Valley Canning Company on east Tenth street early this morning. The one-story wing on the west was saved, but the main three story structure with its contents of machinery and canned goods was completely destroyed. The fire was one of the largest that has occurred in Lawrence for some time and resulted in a total loss of between $60,000 and $75,000. Insurance amounting to $51,000 was carried on the building and its contents. The item on which the heaviest loss occurred is the stock, for it is estimated that 20,000 cases of canned goods valued at $2 a case were stored in the basement, awaiting shipment.... The cause of the fire is unknown. The blaze started in the southeast corner of the building, where the boiler and engine rooms are located. No one was near the building at the time, and the fire was discovered in a very peculiar manner. Some one saw the blaze at the factory and called Will Pendleton at his home in west Lawrence. Pendleton then called the fire department and notified his employes. The department responded quickly, but was unable to be of much service because of the weak water pressure.... By 10 o'clock this morning the water pressure at the fire had increased so that it was possible to send a stream of water almost across the width of the factory.... The intense heat in the basement caused the sealed cans to explode, throwing them high in the air and causing a dull bombardment which made the spectators think of the war zone in Europe.... According to the reports this morning the factory will be rebuilt as soon as possible. The factory has been running full blast all spring and has been shipping out large quantities of canned goods, but it happened that at the time the basement was full of stock awaiting shipment. The stock in the basement was limited almost entirely to canned peas."
  • "Nearly six years ago when the Bowersock opera house burned, together with all of its offices and the office of the Lawrence Journal, the building might easily have been saved if there had been sufficient water pressure. Last night Lawrence suffered the loss of one of her greatest industries because of insufficient water pressure. It is said on good authority that with proper pressure the building could have been saved with a loss of perhaps less than one thousand dollars. A year or more ago there came near being a serious fire in one of the best residence districts of the city. In fact Lawrence has been guarded more by the hand of Providence against fires than she has by her water system. At any time a serious fire may break out in the business district and wipe out several blocks of business houses. The blame cannot be attached to the present operation of the water plant for poor pressure at the Cannery fire last night, because the system of piping is so unsupported in that part of the city that a pressure of one hundred and fifty pounds at the plant would have been of no avail.... The Cannery was located on a four inch main, entirely unsupported by connecting links with other mains.... It is imperative that all haste be made to take over the plant and make such improvements as may be necessary to give adequate fire protection to all parts of the city."
  • "Workmen repaired the small cave-in at the south end of the interurban bridge yesterday afternoon and put the track into good condition for the starting of car service to the south side.... The interurban officials do not know how soon car service to the south side will start. They have everything ready at both ends of the line and a message from the public utilities commission in Topeka will start the service. No guesses have been offered as to the time this permission will be given."
  • “For eight successive days temperatures in Kansas have hovered near 100 degrees without a decline, and in some places the mark has been exceeded. No relief was expected today.... Today was the thirty-second day without rain of any appreciable amount in Kansas, according to records. Thirty days without rain is considered to constitute a period of drouth.... Forecasts from the weather office today were that the thermometers would reach the same altitude as yesterday. 'We are in for a nice warm spell,' the forecaster said. 'The wind will continue from the south and the temperature will be around 100 throughout this territory.'"

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