GrandUncle Clarence led an interesting life. Here he talks

about blowing up a mountaintop and handling a team of

skittish horses.

And he was still a teenager at the time! :

“I was born March 17, 1895 in Cambridge, NH. I’m 80, and mister,

last winter I shoveled snow off 35 camps!

Father used to blacksmith for Blanchard and Twitchell. He looked

after the campsite and he was a good logger.

I never got much learning, left school in the fourth grade and by the

time I was 15 had my own steam drill. I was going to be an engineer.

Just happened the engineer, Silas F. Peasely, same engineer who put

the road up Mount Washington, was working in these parts and I

went up to see him.

He had a job taking the top of a mountain and I wanted the chance to

do it.

‘Well’, he said ‘I don’t see why not.’ He messed around a little with

pencil and paper and finally he said, ‘I’ll give you $ 66.25 if you drill it,

blow and furnish your own dynamite. I’ll have the teams there to

move the rock.’

I was a tickled to death youngster, I’ll tell you.

My drills was 30 inches and ten feet, and I bought 25 drills and a set of
sharpening tools. Just to test out the new stuff I set the machine up on
granite ledge and let her go full steam. At about 8 inches the drills quit
cutting. I pulled them out and they were as flat as a broomstick. Never
cut the top off a mountain that way

I proceeded to temper those drills and I tempered them right.

I didn’t know anything about dynamite so I put what I figured was

going to most certainly be enough. I put a box and a half into the holes

and set my wire. I had bought 500 feet, figuring that would be plenty,

but overlooked that I would have to double my wire so I could then

only reach 250 feet.

So I set my charger behind a thicket of water maples no bigger than

your arm about 200 feet from the charge.

Now, Peaseley had brought his wife and family to see the mountain

top go up and he had his teams and men ready to haul it away.

I set her off, and Jesus, if the rocks didn’t rain down on us. There was
enough charge in that mountain to do the job four times. It set the rock
right in the road. Peaseley was tickled to death. I got my $66.25 and

felt like an accomplished engineer. Peaseley went on to become world


After that my father took me with him to drive horses, and gave me a

six horse team. We went through Bethel and Andover with sledges and

just as I got my team onto the tracks in Lewiston a train came blowing

and steaming and roaring. I wish you could have seen those horse eyes

when they saw that. I got down and went up to the leaders and calmed

them and just lucky they didn’t get destroyed themselves and me too

into that train.

Then after we got across the track along comes an electric car. Now,

mister my pole horses weighed 1700 lbs. each and the one on the electric

car side jumped over his pole. I got them untangled- I’ll admit I was a

rugged chap and I got the sledge where they wanted it.”

To be continued

((Originally published at "West in New England" 8Oct 2010))

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