|MEMORABLE 1945 CALHOUN DISASTER
The Hope compressor station at Cabot Station contained large engines to push natural gas from the area, grounds had cooling "ponds" for engines
Walls blew down, twisted pipes and machinery in 1945 explosion
Two men lost their lives in 1945 blast, others injured
Water tower survived blast, water used to put out the fire
Compiled by Norma Knotts Shaffer, Editor of the Herald's "Photo of the Day" and "Moments in Time"
long years the nation was finally at peace and World War
II was over. Calhoun's servicemen were returning home to
resume their lives, shortages were beginning to ease
and the nation was converting to peace-time economy.
The tranquility of Thanksgiving 1945 was suddenly broken as a brilliant orange
flash of light illuminated the night sky and a few
seconds later a deafening noise and concussion rumbled up and down the Little Kanawha River and
across the Calhoun countryside.
Customers in a Grantsville drug store three miles away reported their entrance doors were partially forced open by the blasts, pictures fell from walls and windows rattled ten miles away.
Imaginations ran wild as fearful residents attempted to
find an explanation. Many thought that the county was
being bombed and some feared that the biblical prophesy
of judgment by fire was being fulfilled.
The telephone switchboard behind the courthouse lit up and within short order the Grantsville Volunteer Fire Department assembled and the town's only fire truck headed down the river.
Neighbors passed the word "Cabot Station has
blown up and is on fire."
Cabot Station's nearly 100 year history began in 1899 when Godfrey L. Cabot and a group of investors started the world's largest carbon black factory on the site. As years past and the carbon black business slumped, the enterprise was converted to a large compressor station to push natural gas from Calhoun.
By this time some of the
Hope Gas employees realized what had happened and were already on the
move to lend assistance at the station.
compressors that pumped the natural gas through the
transmissions lines was fueling the huge blaze. The main valves needed to be "closed in" to stop the fire.
men crossed the river by boat to shut off a valve, and a main line was shut down closer to the station. The river was "running bank
to bank" as a result of storms the previous day. Once
the valves had been closed, the fire was finally
put under control, using water from the water tank on
and the station's cooling tank.
Well-kept grounds around Cabot Station, houses for company men, and Cabot Station's four-room schoo1
Giant engines and compressors were completely destroyed by 1945 blast
The force of the
explosion destroyed the main buildings and the fire was of
such magnitude as to be seen as far away as
On "tower" (people scheduled to work) at the time of the explosion
were Isaac Davis, foreman; Elijah Nester, engineer;
Harry Howell, oiler; and Claude Osborne, oiler.
houses east of the plant were occupied by Junior
Hawkins, Carl Blosser, Frank Hefner and Marshall
Elijah Nester and Junior Hawkins lost their
lives in the explosion and fire. The cause was never
determined, but was believed to have started by a
spark generated by metal to metal contact.
Hawkins was killed instantly and Nester died of burns in St. Joseph's Hospital in Parkersburg.
Marshall Limer, chief engineer, Harry F. Howell and
Isaac Davis were treated for shock and burns caused by
The victims were laid to rest in Bethlehem Cemetery.