Dusting Off the Old Ones was published in 1961 by W. B. Clarke, Miles City, Montana.
A "Touch and Go" Affair
Some of the older residents of the Hathaway and Sheffield communities will probably remember some of the details of the story we are about to relate. When the Milwaukee Railroad built through Montana in 1906 and 1907, there were many incidents which were worth recording--some serious and some of a lighter nature. One of the more serious happened while the roadbed was being cut around the Locke Bluff, about twenty miles west of Miles City, and on the north side of the Yellowstone River. It must be borne in mind that there was but very little, if any power machinery used in the construction of the Milwaukee grade --it was practically all done with horses and scrapers--fresnos, as some of the larger ones were called. And when the contractor came to an obstacle, such as the Locke Bluff, powder and dynamite were used to loosen the earth and rock so that men with teams and scrapers could move it. A party by the name of McIntosh had the contract for that particular strip of grading. One Sunday afternoon in February, 1907, a group of men were sitting about camp, using powder kegs as seats. Most of the men were smoking, and it is said that the camp blacksmith warned the men of the danger and told them to move to some other location, but his precautions were of no avail. At any rate, about 3:00 o'clock that afternoon, there was a terrific explosion, throwing several of the men over the river bank and seriously injuring a number of them. One report was to the effect that the men involved were daring each other to throw lighted cigarettes in the loose powder. Dr. Buskirk was called from Miles City immediately after the accident and the men were taken across the river on the ice and taken to Billings hospitals on the Northern Pacific train No. 1, which was stopped for that purpose. According to reports, at least three of the men died from this accident.