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Gas house explosion

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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By the mid-1800s, many American towns and cities had installed gas pipelines to illuminate their streets and buildings. This gas plant in South Deerfield, Massachusetts, was located on Elm Street, near the Hotel Warren. On the evening of March 8, 1908, workers and the president of the company hurried to the gas house to investigate a reported malfunction. Tragically, the lighted lantern they carried ignited escaping gas as soon they opened the door to the gas house. All three men died in the resulting explosion. The adjacent building, which housed a pool parlor and a barber shop, as well as a private residence, sustained heavy damage. By the turn of the 20th century, electricity replaced gas as a light source in larger towns and cities. People in rural areas continued to depend on candles and kerosene to light their homes.


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