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Althouse Miner’s Short Fuses Cost Him a Leg

Althouse Creek in Josephine County was one of the earliest gold mining regions in Southern Oregon.  Mining continued there well into the 20th century. Today’s story is about one of the miners of 1922.

The miner, John Apple, was placing dynamite in holes drilled in the rocks.  He hoped to find gold by blasting open the rocks.  Short of fuse and not anxious to hike 12 miles to the community of Holland for supplies, Apple just cut the fuses shorter and placed several dynamite charges in the rocks.

When he lit the fourth one, the first short-fused one exploded, blasting rock fragments and knocking Apple unconscious.  He fell onto another charge that went off under his leg.  His housekeeper found him, bandaged his wounds and went for help.

The Kentta brothers came from a mile away, carried Apple to his cabin and trudged all night in deep snow to seek help in Holland.

The next morning 22 miners went back for Apple.  Taking turns breaking trail they made record time getting Apple to Holland, where he was taken by car to Grants Pass.

A doctor amputated his leg, but he survived.

Source: Ramsey, Roger C. "The Kentta-Ramsey Cabin--Part 3." Daily Courier 1 June 1992 [Grants Pass Oregon] : 11A. Print.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.