On This Date In Twin Cities History - November 4, 1864
On this date in 1864, the steamer John Rumsey explodes while rounding into port opposite the lower levee in St. Paul. The boat was blown to pieces and seven members of the crew were killed and others were badly injured. The explosion shook a number of houses in the city. The 39 ton Union steamer was built in Waubeek, WI, just up the Chippewa River from Lake Pepin in 1862. It was owned by Mr. Rumsey of LaCrosse, WI and at the time of the explosion it was being leased by W. F. Davidson. After several years of litigation, Davidson paid $30,000 to the families of the men killed in the accident.
St. Paul levee with docked steamers circa 1865 (MHS)