THE BARCLAY STREET EXPLOSION.
The Tribune is the discoverer of a possible clue to the solution of the mystery of the Barclay street explosion, which occurred December 21, 1877. It seems that Mr. James Gresham, who had an office in one of the buildings destroyed, has invented a terribly explosive powder, and the Tribune thinks there may have been some of this compound in the building, and is responsible for the explosion. Regarding this new explosive Mr. Gresham says: ” About four years ago 1 discovered the manner of treating asphaltum in such a way as to make it explosive by means of electrical heat. Asphaltum of itself is harmless, and ordinary heat will not explode it. Nothing but heat generated by electricity will explode it. While I was experimenting, I came near being blown up several times. Mere whittlings from this little chip of asphaltum, if placed on the track, are sufficient to lift a street car several feet in the air, even though it may be full of people. My friends sometimes have quizzed me as being the cause of the explosion, but it is all nonsense. I did sometimes have some of my asphaltum in the yard; but at the time of the explosion I don’t think I had any there. The force of the powder, to be sure, was sufficient to have done the damage, but it was not there to do it.”
Mr. Gresham has invented and sold to the Russian government a very destructive torpedo, which is exploded by asphaltum powder. He recently gave an exhibition of it at Newport in presence of the Secretaiy of the Navy and other government officials. It is just possible that this new explosive compound is responsible for the Barclay street disaster.