Dennis Tully writes: The Racine Basket Manufacturing Company – This photo is part of a history collection from the George Gorton family records. Although the caption on the back of this photo says “Box Factory Boiler Explosion, May 8, 1889”, I find nothing about that event in any of Racine’s Newspapers or history accounts. This property was located north of 14th street and east of Clark St. which is the present location of the Twin Disc complex adjacent to Racine St.
From the notes on this photo it appears that the view is looking northeasterly from Clark St towards Racine St. The houses at upper right are the back side of residences facing Racine St. just north of 14th St.
George Gorton took over the basket company in the 1880’s and then later founded George Gorton Machine Works which was located across Racine St. to the east. At upper center you can see his 1st house which was at 1165 13th St.
I have included a portion of a Sanborn Map from 1888 that shows the layout of the complex.
Skip Simonsen writes: We were contacted by Don Rintz of Preservation Racine, year’s ago, that our home at 2224 Washington Ave. was a century home owned by a Mr. Foster who was the owner of a box factory along the railroad tracks SOUTH of 14th St.
The story, as I recall, was that the original box factory burned down. It was rebuilt with a used boiler installed. The boiler blew up. Don showed us the newspaper photo. A horse pulling a wagon was spooked by the explosion and hit a train that was passing at the time. The horse and driver were killed.
Some years later, Mr. Foster took his life in a shed behind his home. The home, built in 1892, had a different house number until new streets were added to the west that required renumbering the Washington Ave. homes.
We left all the information with the new owners of the 2224 Washington Ave house 15 years ago. Preservation Racine may have records.