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The Klondike Nugget

DAWSON, Y.T., Thursday, June 7, 1900

White Pass & Yukon Route railroad blasting impresses newspaper reporters in 1900

    Two and a half tons of powder were fired in one mighty blast on the railroad along Lake Bennett at noon Wednesday. The pent up energy of the giant shot threw the granite mountains into a tremor for miles, and wrested from its sleep of ages the ponderous weight of 6000 cubic yards of rock.

    There was no report to be heard half a mile away. Simply one huge convulsion occurred, as though the mother earth were in the agony of death, and the irresistible force lifted off a face of the mountain for 200 feet, and let the loosened mass drop with a mighty splash into the lake.

    The blast was fired in the construction of the grade ten miles beyond Bennett. The point where the shot was fired was along a sinuous cliff standing 200 feet perpendicularly above the surface of the lake, and continuing a sheer precipice of great depth below the water.

    It was expected the mass of rock would fill the edge of the lake, but no, down it went to an oblivious rest fathoms below the surface.

    So terrific was the effect of the tremor and of the falling of the rock that the ice of the lake was cracked into thousands of pieces a distance of four miles. For five miles the waves danced along the narrow strip of open shore and lifted chunks of ice upon the beach. Men standing half a mile from the blast on the shore saw the unusual phenomenon of water rising in a tidal wave a height of four feet almost directly beneath them.

    "These wonders seem more wonderful yet," says H. C. Barley, the Skagway photographer, who was present, "when it is considered that the lake at the place of the blast is a full mile in width.

    "The ice of the lake was two or three feet thick, but being nearly ready to break up, was of course, rotten and in places could be pierced with a stick. Yet it was something extraordinary to see that great frozen sheet thrown into such a hubub in almost the twinkling of an eye. It was split in all directions, and fell and rose and ground peevishly in huge pieces as big, some of them, as a city block.

    "Fearful of the rock being thrown high in the air, everyone had gotten so far away that no one saw the rock in upheaval and descent. Yet it is known that it simply lifted and went over in one upheaval and plunge.

    "The shots were all fired in a tunnel running inward 30 feet direct from the face of the cliff, and turning to one side 25 feet, and to the other 20 feet. These tunnels kept the force of the powder confined, and smothered what otherwise would have been a loud report. No energy went to waste by escaping at openings. All combined to shake the foundations of the mountain and seek and opening by lifting off the high mass above it.

    "Once the load was lifted the force was so spent that the smoke rose from the scene of the blast in a languid drift.

    "The first intimation we had of the shots having gone off was a tremor like an earthquake. It swayed the mountains that stand a bulwark of solid granite for miles, as though they were nothing more than trail frame houses.

    "Had we known no rock would be thrown, we would have stood across the lake and watched the bluff in its travail.

    This shot was the largest ever fired in this part of the country, and perhaps will rank with the largest shots in the world. The powder, caps and fuse used cost a thousand dollars or more. --- Alaskan.