The Defender Towboat was a sternwheel, built in 1881 at Brownsville PA. It was originally named S.L. Wood but was renamed Defender when sold in 1896. Her main course was along the Ohio River until she met her demise on January 3, 1905.
On January 3, 1905, Defender was upbound on the Ohio River with empty barges when the boilers exploded. The towboat became full engulfed, burning for over an hour. Seven lives were lost in the fire. Eventually, “Shiner” Allis (Engineer on watch at the time of the incident) would have his license permanently revoked.
As the story goes, Pilot William Weldon was in bed and was blown out of his stateroom door (still on the bed) and landed in a fuel flat (still on the bed). Of course, he lived to tell that tale.
Below are various newspaper clippings on the event and its aftermath.