On January 4, 1910, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on a wildly tragic incident that had occurred in Des Moines, Iowa.
The strangest accident recorded in local history occurred here when Rhadamanthus, a duck which had taken prizes at the recent Iowa poultry show, exploded into several hundred pieces, one of which struck Silas Perkins in the eye, destroying his sight.
The cause of Rhadamanthus' untimely explosion was a pan of yeast. This, standing upon Perkins' back porch, tempted the duck, which gobbled it all up. Upon returning from church, Mr. Perkins discovered his prize duck in a loggy condition. Tell-tale marks around the pan of yeast gave him a clew [sic] to the trouble.
He was about to pick up the bird when it exploded with a loud report, and Perkins ran into the house, holding both hands over one eye. A surgeon was called, and it was found that the eyeball had been penetrated by a fragment of flying duck. He gave no hope that the sight could be saved.
The Washington Post also reported on the incident several months earlier, noting that "A stiff northerly gale was blowing at the time and give dark brown duck feathers were wafted so far as Great Notch and fluttered into the open window of the smoker of that admirable Erie Railroad train." The Post also has a bit more detail on the late Rhadamanthus, who, they note, "was no ordinary or ornery duck." Rhadamanthus's grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, was also renowned for this fortune-telling prowess.
An editor from The Locomotive cast doubt on whether the yeast was indeed the cause of this ducksplosion. Snopes has also tried to quack the case.
The fate of Mr. Silas Perkins remains unknown.
Image: Acarpentier / Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)