Nov 3, 2010

Surviving a Blowout Under the East River

In our Cities episode, Jad tells the story of Marshall Mabey, a sandhog who was working to dig a subway tunnel under the East River in 1916. In order to keep the tunnel from collapsing under the weight of the riverbed and river, compressed air was pumped into the tunnel. One day in February, Mabey looked up and saw a crack--which meant he was in trouble. Before he and his co-workers could plug the growing crack, the pressure from the compressed air rushed through it--causing what's known as a blowout. The escaping air rushed through the hole, through the muck and mud of the riverbed, through the river itself, and shot into the air...sucking Mabey along with it before spitting him back in the water near a pier. Here's a link to an account from a New York Times article from 1916, in which Mabey describes the unbelieveable experience (which killed the other men standing next to him). If you haven't listened to our Cities episode yet, you can hear Mabey's story in the tunnels piece of the episode here.

THE LAB sticker

Unlock member-only exclusives and support the show

Exclusive Podcast Extras
Entire Podcast Archive
Listen Ad-Free
Behind-the-Scenes Content
Video Extras
Original Music & Playlists