Explosives found in antique railroad collection
- Associated Press
- September 27, 2013 - 4:50 PM
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — An Eau Claire man who bought a few Soo Line railroad antiques got more than he bargained for when he popped open a can in the collection: about 50 railroad torpedoes.
Pat Thoney quickly called police and evacuated his family from his property. The explosives, which contain nitroglycerine, were used in the days before two-way radios to warn train crews of dangers ahead on the tracks. But over time, they can become unstable.
Police and firefighters responded and called in the Marathon-Oneida Bomb Squad, which arrived at Thoney's house Thursday night. A bomb squad member, in a protective suit, retrieved the torpedoes and took them to a shooting range west of the city where they were detonated.
"It's kind of scary, but it's kind of cool because it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this kind of stuff," said Thoney's 12-year-old son, Nick.
Thoney bought the collection — which also contained hundreds of harmless antiques such as lanterns, paperwork, roll-top desks, locks and keys — from the Chippewa Falls estate of Benny Bruhling, a longtime Soo Line employee. Bruhling's daughter, Belinda Dressel is Thoney's neighbor, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported.
Thoney said he has had fun researching the history of his collection, which he called "a museum in itself."
"It just shows you don't know what's in your neighbor's garage," he said with a chuckle.
© 2013 Star Tribune