Wednesday, May 17, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: May 17

May 17, 1901 – The Norwegian Independence Day festivities in Bemidji today ended with a terrible accident. A lot of fireworks on the steamer Shadow exploded while taking part in a pyrotechnic show, and out of 24 people on board, five small boys and several men received potentially fatal burns.

The accident occurred about 9:30 p.m. The steamer, which carried about one-fourth of the entire supply of fireworks, was leaving to take part in the show on Lake Bemidji, and when about a mile from shore, the fireworks exploded. Few people on the boat escaped unscarred, and those whose clothes were afire jumped into the lake to put out the flames.  Immediately after the accident, the boat was taken to shore and 11 people were attended by physicians.

Three boys and one man were drowned. Several other passengers later died of their burns in the hospital.

The Minneapolis Journal; “Death on a Boat at Bemidji”; May 18, 1901; p. 1.

The Bemidji Pioneer; “A Crown of Horror”; May 23, 1901; pp. 1 & 2.

Beautiful Lake Bemidji


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