Saturday, July 30, 2016

On This Date in Minnesota History: July 30

July 30, 1921 - An explosion in cable conduits on Nicollet Avenue caused damage estimated at $3,000 this evening. At least 50 persons were injured by the force of the explosion and falling glass. Only a few, however, were badly injured.

The first explosion came at 10:15 p.m. when two manholes near Liggett Drug Store, Sixth St. and Nicollet Ave., blew up with a crash resembling thunder.

Manhole covers were thrown 20 feet in the air followed by an immediate burst of flames. Crowds gathered to view the sight, and police tried to move them away.

Minneapolis Manhole Cover*

A second explosion came from across the street, wrecking the United Cigar Store and injuring a score of men and women.

One of the injured men was standing over a manhole when the top blew out. He was thrown several feet and severely bruised. Two other men standing nearby were thrown down by the force of the explosion. They fell into the manhole, from which flames were shooting as in the case of the earlier explosions. Firemen rushed to their rescue and they were pulled out before being seriously burned.

There were seven explosions in all. The actual cause of the explosion may never be known. The general theory was that the cross wires were shut off by sewage gas seeping into the cable conduits.

Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “Fifty Are Injured in Minneapolis Explosion”; Aug. 1, 1921; p. 1.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Seven Explosions Rock Nicollet, Scores Hurt, Losses Huge. Six Seriously Injured, 3 Stores Wrecked as Manholes Are Blown Up.”; July 31, 1921; pp. 1 & 2.

Duluth News-Tribune; “28 Hurt in Minneapolis Sewer Gas Explosion Flames Shoot from Manholes for Two Blocks on Nicollet”; Duluth, Minn.; July 31, 1921; p.1.


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