May 5, 2019

The Craziest Dynamite Stories in Yavapai County History

To be precise, these are the craziest stories that did not involve criminal intent. Those deserve tellings on their own.


The Spring of 1907 was good for rattlesnakes in the Bradshaw Mountains. So much so that workers at the Tiger Mine were crossing paths with them dangerously often.

“The miners, who were annoyed by the rattlers on their way to and from work, decided…to start out and annihilate all of the snakes found,” the paper reported. Twenty-five were located and destroyed in one day.

The following day, the battle was rejoined. Several were found and killed until they were led to “a rocky place on the mountainside about a quarter-mile from camp.” There they peered down a large crevice and were amazed to see “countless rattlers glistening in the sun.” 

An attack with rocks was considered too dangerous due to the shear volume of snakes; some “almost as large around the body as a good-sized rabbit.” The miners withdrew back to camp to procure one of their common tools: “a heavy charge of dynamite.” Returning to the enormous den, they prepared a charge with a fuse long enough to “allow easy escape,” and with anticipation and excitement, it was dropped into the den.

When the fire reached the Hercules powder, hundreds of pounds of reptile-flesh rocketed high into the sky before the entire mountainside was covered with “thousands of wriggling pieces of snakes” raining down upon it.

“The delight of the miners…was supreme,” the paper reported. It was as if they just hit the mother-lode. When it came to rattlesnakes, they did, indeed. 

Afterward, the miners spent their free time collecting “all of the rattles they could find as souvenirs.”


A Groom Creek dairyman had a problem. One of his milk cows was in pain and dying from disease. He wanted to put her out of her misery, but had no firearm to do the job. However, he did have some dynamite and decided to strap five sticks to the cows head. 

Five sticks was undoubtedly far too much. A half-stick, if placed well, would total an automobile! The dairyman wanted the task to go quickly and attached a short, 12-inch fuse to the charge before lighting it.

That is when his plan fell apart. The hissing of the fuse, so close to the bovines ear, panicked the animal and the entire herd began to stampede. For her part, the diseased cow started heading for the safety of her shed. The man, seeing the potential added destruction, grabbed the cow’s tail “endeavoring to thwart its purpose…by exerting all of his physical ability,” but it was no use. His eyes quickly reminded him of the dangerously shortening fuse and he let go. The cow had but a few seconds after she entered the shed when the charge exploded.

Before the smoke could begin to rise, a large chunk of timber from the now demolished shed-front fell to earth breaking the back of one of the stampeding herd. “Two other milk cows were found sprawling on the ground in a dying state, and the dynamited one with its head blown off,” the paper said. 

The dairyman’s worst enemy could not have accomplished more. “‘Dynamited Beef For Sale’ now dangles from a sign at the former dairyman's quarters,” the paper reported.

That’s one man who literally blew himself out of business.

The true crime story of a dynamite attack on J.S. Acker's home in Prescott, AZ on 4/21/1917 and the surprising motive behind the crime.


Late December, 1908 brought winter storms to Yavapai County, but neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow would keep a miner from his office.

There was excitement and new employment as the Black Mountain Copper Company began working a new find. It had only been a month since the expensive, heavy equipment needed for a large operation had been installed in the powerhouse. This included a hoist, an air compressor, and, of course, a boiler. 

The first duty of the day was to thaw the dynamite. It had become frozen due to the inclement weather. So, a man was assigned to leave a 40 pound case to warm in the powerhouse. However, he was anxious to speed up the process; so with reasoning reminiscent of the Three Stooges, he decided to place the box of explosives on the boiler itself!

Reckless Treatment Of Giant Powder Has Usual Result,” the sub-headline of the paper declared. 

It was 11 am when the explosion occurred and it “was heard (for) many miles.” Those who weren’t thrown to the ground immediately dove for it voluntarily as “flying debris and pieces of machinery” whizzed overhead. The detonation blew “the building to pieces, tearing the boiler from its moorings, wrecking its foundation and badly damaging the air compressor.” It was hoped the hoist could be repaired.

No one was injured. Everyone was unemployed. 

“It is believed that the explosion will cause the discontinuance of the practice of thawing frozen powder on boilers in many camps in this and other territories and states,” the paper aspired.

Ya think??

The story of a mysterious powder house blast at the United Verde Mine in Jerome, AZ on December 20th, 1925 and its consequences.


On the surface, our last tale seems so absurd, that if one were to recount it with his "belly to the bar," no one in the entire joint would believe him for a minute. Then again, perhaps inebriation would make it seem more plausible...

A farmer name Henry Simpson had been in the habit of using dynamite to remove old tree stumps. One day, “he carelessly left the dangerous compound lying by the side of a stump.” It seems that the scent of the dynamite and the sawdust was pleasing to Simpson’s two hogs. (Of course, what wouldn’t smell good to a pig?)

“They finished their investigation of the stuff by eating it,” the paper said, “and then, probably to aid and accelerate digestion, began rubbing their sides against a post at the entry of the mule’s stall.”

The mule’s patience was short and soon he delivered a mighty kick into the closest pork-belly. “A terrible explosion followed,” the paper described, “and when the smoke and dust has cleared away, the hog was only found in detachments, while an enormous hole marked the place where he stood.”

Shockingly, the mule was unhurt. The newspaper surmised that the animal’s miraculous fate was due simply to the orneriness of his species. "But," the paper added, "it was the most surprised mule you ever saw.”

The other hog headed for the hills. It’s unclear whether Simpson ever recovered it. One thing is certain: the porker must have been forever apprehensive about approaching mules!

Now Available!
The New Book by Drew Desmond and Brad Courtney:
"True Tales of Prescott" 

Follow the blog in one of the following social media to be sure you get the latest article!

Want more Prescott history? Join the "Celebrating Historic Prescott" group.
(Daily pics and featured articles.)
Drew Desmond is on Facebook (For the latest article and posts about Drew's writing.)

Follow the Prescott AZ History Blog on Twitter @PrescottAZHist
(Daily pic featured at 7 am and featured articles.)

Prescott AZ History is on Pinterest
(For the latest article.)

Follow PrescottAZHistory on Instagram


No comments:

Post a Comment