Monday, December 26, 2016

That Fight Was A 'Blast'

The following bizarre account was published in the 'San Francisco Call' on January 4, 1909:

[Special Dispatch to The Call] SAN BERNARDINO. Jan. 3.— The most extraordinary tragedy ever enacted on the desert took place at Jake Fletcher's cabin on the banks of the Amargosa, near Death valley, on Christmas day. The news has just reached civilization.

Fletcher had been doing well on his claim until recently, when the vein ran out. This left him without money to buy whisky. Thomas Robbins, a bosom friend, who was spending Thanksgiving day at Fletcher's, proposed that they try a dynamite jag. He said he had read of Mexican miners getting drunk by eating dynamite when liquor failed.

Fletcher was incredulous, but expressed his willingness to make, this experiment. Between them they consumed three sticks of dynamite during the afternoon and evening of Christmas day and became loud and boisterous in their demeanor. Fletcher was good natured and wanted to sing, but Robbins was surly and quarrelsome, and; the more dynamite he consumed the more troublesome he became.

This finally aroused Fletcher's wrath to such a pitch that he challenged Robbins to a fistic duel. Robbins was staggering slightly and Fletcher finally shot a left hook into the man's ribs. Instantly there was a terrific explosion. The body of Robbins shot through the ceiling as though it had turned into a dynamite bomb. The concussion induced by Fletcher's blow had caused Robbins to explode.

The tragedy instantly sobered Fletcher, and he called at a neighbor's cabin, where he told the story and borrowed a lantern, saying he intended to go that night to the nearest peace officer and give himself up for the crime of manslaughter. He was deeply depressed, and this feeling of melancholy must have caused him to alter his program, for he betook himself to the top of a peak about a mile away and threw himself from that point into the ravine below.

Searchers found the shattered remains of Fletcher scattered about in the boughs of the willows that grew near the head of the ravine. He had landed in a soft spot, but the concussion had been great enough to set off the second charge of dynamite.

The miners buried what they could find of the two bodies in one grave. Since the death of Fletcher a miner who went to work on his claim rediscovered the lost ledge and is taking out ore that will run $97.98 in gold.

NOTE: I had never heard of consuming TNT in order to get 'high'...but I believe it may be possible. Various manufacturers used a combination of compounds to stabilize the nitroglycerin in TNT. But, for the most part, sticks of dynamite contained sawdust as a shock buffer. But there is an early reference to dry ground hemp being used as the buffer. Since industrial hemp is a derivative of the Cannabis sativa plant, then is may be possible that these miners were munching on 'weed.' Industrial hemp has much less THC then the Cannabis used for medical & recreational use...but, I suppose it's viable that they used whatever was available. That's the only explanation I can come up with. Lon

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