We came home to the farm and were getting ready to go to a mine at Bewowe, Nevada to work. This property was called Gold Acres. We were home only a few days when one of the fellows who was with me at the Channel Mine, Andrew Martin, whose nickname was “Gump,” came and asked me if I would come down to a mine called the Vulcan, out of Contact, Nevada and sharpen steel and picks and help him get started as I had taught him what he knew about mining. The boss was a man from Twin Falls, Idaho, Mr. A.H. Anderson. We were at the Vulcan Mine only a few days when Andrew Martin received word his father had died and he had to leave the mine and take over the farm his father owned. I stayed there all summer as they only worked the summer months. I worked on the farm that fall.
After harvest, I went to work for Dearborn Construction Company who had a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation building the Gooding Canal which started at Milner Dam. My job was drilling and blasting. They worked three shifts a day, and we lived at the town of Milner. I could not find a house so we lived in a sheep wagon. I worked on this job nearly a year. My father-in-law, Mr. Davis, came from Deeth, Nevada and wanted me to go with him and buy a service station in Filer, Idaho. We bought the station and found out it did not take both of us to run it only on certain days so I went to work in a sheet metal shop where they made stove pipe or anything made of metal including boats. I learned the sheet metal trade and since he also did machine work, I learned to operate a lathe, and drill press of punches, and he was agreeable about letting me go when I was needed at the station for things that required two people.
We were there in Filer about a year when I got a call from Mettry Construction Company of Los Angeles who had bid on about ten miles of the Gooding Canal. My wife said she could run the gas pumps so I accepted the job and went to Camp Two, north of Eden and south of Dietrich, which was the headquarters for Mettry’s. Once again my job was drilling and blasting. I was there most of the summer, and during this time, Mr. Davis sold the station in Filer, so my wife brought the kids and came to the camp where I was and we built a tent house to live in. An old friend, Ed Claiborne and his wife, Evelyn, also built a tent house as they were at Milner on the same job. They stayed on that contract until it was finished. We worked for Mettry Brothers about a year or a little more when the contract was finished. Ed Claiborne and family continued to live at the camp. Evelyn Claiborne went to work for the Bureau of Reclamation and lived at the old camp with his wife as his job was on the new canal watching for defects such as leaks. I do not know what all of his duties were.
I finished the drilling and a blasting of the last few places that had to be done, only took a few days, then helped take a drag-line to Dietrich to load on the railroad as Mettry’s had sold it to Hoops Construction Company of Twin Falls. Hoops had a contract on a highway job between Rupert in the desert and had sublet some of the work to small contractors but Hoops was to do the blasting on the entire contract. It was in the start of the big depression. The state thought the bid was too high, so they decided to build a mile of the contract using state employees. I heard it cost the state nearly twice as much to build the mile of road as the Hoops’ bid. Never heard any more out of Governor Ben Ross. At Massacre Rocks, there was a narrow place where the highway went through the rocks. I blasted a big slab off both sides of the old cut, this was in the very early thirties. As you drive through Massacre Rock now, you see a very large cut where Interstate 84 goes through. I also blasted the rocks on the grade down to Raft River. When I go through there now on the Interstate, I cannot see where the old grade was.
While working there, I left a partly open box of dynamite hidden in the sagebrush. The range cows found it and ate it, only the box was left. It was in wooden boxes those days. I moved the family to Shoshone to live. Vivian started to school in the first grade. I worked nearly a year there for Hoops, then they got a contract to widen and straighten the road to the old penitentiary Work did not start right at the penitentiary but quite a distance east of it, and then to Barber, Idaho. There were lots of rock on the hillside and the railroad track was just below the road and a ditch that carried water to the penitentiary was just above the road. We had to be very careful with the blasting in order not to damage the railroad track or the ditch. There was a phone line that run on the hillside just above the ditch, and I remember that I had some holes loaded ready to blast but was afraid to set the dynamite off because it would damage the wires. I left the holes without blasting and quit for the night.
Since the family was not with me, as Alice had stayed at the farm to keep Vivian in school, I went to the boarding house. I had just eaten my supper when the boss came up and asked me why I had not shot those holes. I told him that it would surely damage the phone lines if they were not moved. He said he had told the phone company several days ago about the wires over this point of the hill and for me to go back and shoot the holes. There were I4 wires on the pole, and after I had shot the holes, there only two left on the poles. When I came to work the next morning, the phone truck was there a fellow I knew as a boy was patching things up and not at all happy about the shape things were in.
We had a hard time keeping the ditch above the road from being damaged. One day a fellow named Joe, who worked with me on the Gooding Canal, came walking up the ditch and we had a long visit. He asked me, “Will you give me some powder and fuse and caps?” I said, “Help yourself,” but the joke was on me as he said, “If they ever saw me with that, they would have you in the penitentiary, didn’t you know I am in the pen? I am a trustee now.” I told Joe that I never heard about it. He then told me he had been in for three years and told me what he had done. I always like Joe, as he was a good fellow, and I learned he was protecting the son of an old widow woman who lived with the son. The son had stolen something, I forget now what it was, but Joe took the blame, so the poor old woman who lived with the son. The son had stolen something, I forget now what it was, but Joe took the blame, so the poor old woman would have a place to live and eat.
I had another experience on that job. I could look down on a little place and see lots of goats. The goats were tame and I had to watch where I left things as the goats would chew up everything they could find and also at times, they were in the way when I needed to blast. I saw the fellow down there, so I went down and talked to him. I asked him why he had so many goats and he told me, “It’s milking time and I’ll show you.” He had a bench about two feet tall that he put in the pen with the goats and each time he called, a goat would come and jump up on the bench so he could milk her. He had a small kettle with ice in it and a small bucket in the ice in which he milked the goats. He said if he did not use the ice, the milk and he told me he sold it to the hospital in Boise and was paid 40 cents a quart for it. I never asked how many quarts he got a day.
I saw Harry Orchard on the hill quite some distance from me. He was herding turkeys for the penitentiary and was a trustee. Harry Orchard had been in the penitentiary for many years. He was the one who killed Governor Steuenberg by putting a bomb on the Governor’s gate and when the Governor opened the gate, it exploded and killed him. This was quite a coincidence seeing Mr. Orchard, as my folks bought a cow from his widow before they left Altman, Colorado, and shipped her to Idaho in an Immigrant Car with the horses and things they brought with them to the farm. The cow the folks brought with them was named “Bingham,” I never knew why she was called by that name. For those who may not know what an Immigrant Car was, it was a car the railroad had set up so that the owner of livestock could ride in the car with the stock and be available to feed and water them when the train stopped.
The road we were working on crossed a piece of very swampy land close to Barber, as this part of the road was new, a short cut from the old road. I had to move the compressor up a ways to the next hill but was unable to get there until the shovel moved the rocks I had blasted and cleared the way for me as I pulled the compressor with a 30 Cat. While I was waiting for the rocks to be cleared the boss came by and said, “What are you waiting on?” I explained to him that I could not go around the rocks without upsetting the compressor. He said, “Get on the railroad tracks.” I fired up and started up the tracks. I had only gone a short ways when I met the Section Boss for the railroad on his motor car and boy did chew me out. He was old country Irish and when he finally run down, I pointed to my boss and told him, “There’s the man to talk to.” The Section Boss said, “You get this rig off the tracks damn quick, there is a train due in less than one hour.” I asked him if I could go ahead a short way as that was the end of the high grade and I would be able to get off the tracks. I could not get off the tracks where I was without upsetting the compressor.