Saturday, April 16, 2011

Samuel McMullen - Gravelly Ford Explosion in ?1870's

From: "Sean Thompson" seanst@mac.com

I am trying to track down an explosion that happened at Gravelly Ford during the construction of the railroad tracks where 1,600 kegs of black powder exploded, killing six men and injuring a lot of other people. My relative was a witness to it that day but I am unable to find any information about it on any of the railroad history sites. He worked on the main tracks at Illinoistown or Colfax California and all of the side tracks in Palisade. ...

—Sean Thompson




1868 Central Pacific to Mary's Creek and Gravelly Ford - Daily Alta California, Volume 20, Number 6843, 11 December 1868
1868 Central Pacific to Mary's Creek and Gravelly Ford – Daily Alta California, Volume 20, Number 6843, 11 December 1868.


1868 Gravelly Ford - Chinese Graders, White Track Layers - Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 36, Number 5468, 5 October 1868
1868 Gravelly Ford – Chinese Graders, White Track Layers – Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 36, Number 5468, 5 October 1868.


1868 Mormon Grading contracts on CP - Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 36, Number 5455, 19 September 1868
1868 Mormon Grading contracts on CP – Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 36, Number 5455, 19 September 1868.


Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 36, Number 5510, 23 November 1868 — Page 2 Advertisements Column 1
Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 36, Number 5510, 23 November 1868 – Page 2 Advertisements Column 1.

9 Comments:

Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves" caliron@cwnet.com

I have spent many hours in the cemetery at Beowawe, which is just a short distance from Gravelly Ford. Other than the Maidens Grave (a relic of emigrant wagon days, the body was moved to the cemetery on the hill above the CPRR grade when the grade was made, as the original grave was on the proposed grade) I have not seen any sign of CPRR activity that would relate to the cemetery. I have not seen any headstones with a common death date.

You may wish to contact Richard Wear of Beowawe, his family has been on the ground there since early days, if such an incident occured Mr. Wear would know of it.

—G J Chris Graves, NewCastle, Cal.

4/19/2011 10:40 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Can you please clarify how you determined the date of the explosion. Your message subject says 1870's, but the Central Pacific Railroad was completed on May 10, 1869.

What is the name of your relative? Any other details passed down in your family about the explosion or your ancestor?

4/27/2011 12:03 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Sean Thompson" seanst@mac.com

I did some further research and found an article that shows my Great, Great Grandfather, Samuel McMullen worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad building the main track at Colfax, California and sides tracks at Palisades. This is the most information I could find about the incident. I am going to search now for information on the Southern Pacific Railroad and see if there is any history of it. I said it was the 1870s, but could of been earlier because I found out Samuel came from New York on a ship to San Francisco in January of 1864 and after a short stint in Dutch Flat, CA, he went to work for the Railroad around 1865 or so and may have continued into the 1870s. It is was my best guess at the time, sorry for the confusion.

4/27/2011 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A history of the state of Nevada: its resources and people By Lewis Publishing Company:

"SAMUEL McMULLEN, who has a large ranch near Deeth, in Elko county, and also large land interests in Ruby valley, has made a fine record as a farmer and stockman in Nevada, and in the earlier years of his residence in this country was engaged in many successful enterprises. He is one of the men who helped build the Southern Pacific Railroad through this state. He was at the head of fifty Chinese laborers, and for two years assisted in laying the main track from Colfax, California, and all the side tracks at Palisade. He was present at Gravelly Ford when sixteen hundred kegs of black powder exploded with a mighty thunder that shook the earth, killing
six men and injuring others. He has had a varied career, starting in when he came to the state without a hundred dollars to his name, and his industry and perseverance and business judgment have placed him in the front rank of farmers and stockmen of the state.
Mr. McMullen was born in Ireland, and his parents were natives of county Monahan, afterward coming to this country in 1872, and they located on lard in Nevada which Samuel had taken up some time before. Samuel came to this country and was a resident of New York state for some time, then coming to the west and working at railroad building and other enterprises for some years. He continued to work for wages until 1877, but after his marriage in the spring of 1878 he bought his present farm of Russell and Bradley. He has increased his property much since then, and now owns nine thousand rcres near Deeth. His principal product is hay. which he feeds to his own high-grade shorthorn cattle. He also has five thousand acres in Ruby valley, and has had as many as eight hundred cattle at one time.

Mr. McMullen has been a life-long Republican, and cast his first vote for John C. Fremont, while living in Washington county. New York. When he first came to Star valley, Nevada, there were only four houses in the locality, and at the first election he cast the only Republican ballot against nine straight Democratic votes. There are now one hundred and twenty votes in the valley, and they are considerably more evenly divided. Mr. McMullen has taken much interest in educational affairs, and has held the office of school trustee.

In the spring of 1878 Mr. McMullen was married to Miss Annie Brennen, a native of England, and they are now the parents of the following children: Deborah, a graduate of the business college at Elko; Annie, who was educated in the high school at Elko and is now a successful teacher; Rosa and Kate are attending the State University at Reno; Sadie is at home; and L. P. is in the high school at Elko. Mrs. McMullen is a member of the Baptist church. Mr. McMullen was made a Mason in 1863 in Fort Edward Lodge No. 267, F. & A. M., at Fort Edward, New York, thence dimitted to Dutch Flat. California, and at present affiliates with Elko Lodge No. 15, of which he is a charter member. He has a fine residence on his ranch, and he and the family are popular in the social circles of the valley, and many friends find the home a delightful place to spend an hour in good companionship and pleasant converse. Mr. McMullen is interested in the raising of high-grade horses, and his carriage team have trotted a mile in 2:32."

4/27/2011 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Central Pacific Railroad's Construction Schedule shows that this explosion would have occurred in the 1860's, not the 1870's.

4/27/2011 12:42 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Sean Thompson

... It feels like a needle in a haystack considering it might of been a big deal in the day.

4/27/2011 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you can determine the exact date, it might help to find an article in a local newspaper with more details.

4/27/2011 1:19 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: kylewyatt@aol.com

The 1860s construction you are referring to was by the Central Pacific Railroad. It wasn't until 1885 that the Southern Pacific Company acquired control of the Central Pacific.

I note Gravelly Ford, Nevada, is near Beowawe, not far from Palisade. Also near Maidens Grave. Attached are several articles about the Central Pacific around Gravelly Ford, but other than the one body shipped from Gravelly Ford to Sacramento for burial (with no details about his death), I find nothing to indicate a large explosion with loss of life. That doesn't mean it didn't happen, just that I have yet to find any evidence of it.

—Kyle

4/28/2011 3:54 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman" wendellhuffman@hotmail.com
Subject: Explosion of 1600 kegs of powder

... Joseph Graham mentions an explosion of just that many kegs of powder at the lower end of the canyon, which certainly qualifies for Gravely Ford. It is in the interview with Earle Heath.

["Heath: Aside from yourself, what other engineers on the subdivisions beyond Reno were there?
Graham: I think I have given everybody except one young fellow I have lost the name of entirely. He got started west of me on the 12 mile canyon. He got injured by the explosion of 1600 kegs of powder stored at the lower end of the canyon and did not return to the work."]

—Wendell

8/27/2011 11:58 AM  

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