Olden Days: Hellertown Man Died in 1918 Steam ‘Scalding’ Accident

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The following news article appeared in the Jan. 4, 1918 edition of The Morning Call under the headline: “SCALDED TO DEATH IN HIS LOCOMOTIVE, Frightful Death of Stewart Mushlitz, of Hellertown, When Engine Upset.” In the early 1900s it wasn’t unusual for newspapers to graphically report on industrial and other types of accidents, sometimes in grisly detail. With Bethlehem Steel and other titans of industry operating in the area, the pages of these papers were regularly filled with such tales.

Stewart Mushlitz*, the engineer who was killed at the Northampton coke plant of the Bethlehem Steel Co. on Wednesday evening, leaves his wife, his parents, Martin and Mary (Cope) Mushlitz, of Hellertown; two daughters, Velma and Pauline, and one son, Edward; also two brothers and three sisters–Floyd, of Lower Saucon, Robert, Bingen; Mrs. Ernest Goldberg and Mrs. Lawrence Frey, both of Hellertown, and Miss Verna Mushlitz, at home. He was a member of Apple’s Lutheran Church and of Kalatin Tribe, No. 21, I.O.R.M. The funeral will be held Sunday at 1:30 p.m. from the home, 46 Saucon street, Hellertown, followed by services in Christ Lutheran Church, Hellertown, and interment in Hellertown cemetery.

Mushlitz, who was an engineer in the employ of the company on the broad gauge railroad, was piloting a Lehigh Valley engine, No. 1373, in shifting two cars of coal to a coal chute. In passing over a throw-switch the two cars passed properly but in some unaccountable manner the switch was thrown, and the engine passed onto the wrong track, which caused it to turn over on it side. Mushlitz, who was in the cab on the side on which the locomotive fell, was pinned underneath and directly in the way of escaping steam. When his body was found it was terribly burned.

Clarence Diehl, also of Hellertown, a fireman on the engine, had just left the cab and was on the platform when the accident happened. He jumped and escaped injury.

*According to an entry for Stewart Mushlitz on FindAGrave.com he died on Jan. 2, 1918 at the age of 30. His surname on his gravestone (and the entry) is spelled “Muschlitz.”

Steam Scalding Accident

The Jan. 4, 1918 edition of The Morning Call carried the story of Steward Mushlitz’s untimely and tragic death in a locomotive accident at Bethlehem Steel’s coke works near Hellertown.

About this column: Olden Days is a regular Saucon Source series in which newspaper clippings in the public domain are used to highlight area news from the early 1900s.

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