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Explosion Shakes Grants Pass in 1910

Dishes rattled and windows shattered in Grants Pass just after the New Year in 1910, but it wasn’t an earthquake.

The house-shaking came from an exploding box of blasting powder and dynamite being used to clear land near town.  The Rogue River Courier said the blast was heard everywhere in the city and half of Josephine County.

Residents who rushed toward the source of the explosion found Charles Hudnell on fire and pleading for help and the charred remains of Frank James scattered on the ground.  Hudnell and James were hired men working for G.H. Carner, who owned the land. 

Although there was a fire on the property burning brush, officials never determined the cause of the blast because Hudnell died shortly after being shot.  People speculated that the box may have been frozen and set too close to the fire to thaw, or that a spark ignited the blasting powder.  Some guessed that a dynamite cap just went off prematurely, because Hudnell, a veteran of the Confederate Army artillery division, was said to be an expert with explosives.  Both victims were buried at Granite Hill Cemetery in Grants Pass. 


Source:  "Fatal Explosion Carner Place." Rogue River Courier 7 Jan. 1910 [Grants Pass Oregon] : 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers. Web. 13 June 2016. .

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.