Monday, January 23, 2006

Pioneer Pyrotechnics - Great photos

More Pioneer Pyrotechnics

A description of anvil firing:
Shooting the anvil is just plain old-fashioned fun and exciting, as evidenced by this eyewitness description of the simultaneous firing of three anvils, approximately 15 feet apart.

"Thunder-- smoke-- airborne! The two outside anvils went up in a harmonious tandem (way up) while the middle anvil, a split second behind, climbed skyward like a rocket, passing between the two outside anvils. Then, suspended weightless against the heavens for a moment, they plummeted earthward at last. The synchronization, the flight pattern and the phenomenal distance all made for a super show, best ever!"

A reader sent these pictures of an anvil firing. Boy, those pioneers really knew how to celebrate 4th of July, didn't they? I must put in this warning: I've not done this personally and don't try it based on the tiny amount of information provided here. While the pictures may indeed show some experienced anvilists(?) I'm a still a bit circumspect. It looks as if the anvils are aligned base to base, and the internal cavity in the base is filled with black powder. Hmmm. That seems like a lot of powder, maybe too much? If things go wrong, the possibility of shrapnel exists, not to mention the danger of an anvil falling on you.


Anonymous said...

So is this where the Looney Tunes falling-anvil meme came from?

Richoid said...

When Malakoff Diggins was made a California State Park, an annual celebration was created called "The Homecoming". The streets (all three of them) of N. Bloomfield were filled with good-natured partiers, many in period costumes.

For me, the highlight was the Firing of the Anvil. A former miner of Cornish descent would do just as described: an upright anvil would get black powder poured into the square hole at one end (normally used for mounting tools, I believe) and a trail of the powder would act as a fuse. The trail led out to the horn of the anvil.

Another cool step was adding playing cards over the top of the gunpowder; a better hand led to a better boom.

Then another anvil was lowered upside-down onto the first. Nearby, a coal-fired, hand-cranked forge was heating an iron, which was strapped to a long pole. When it was red hot, everyone covered their ears, the iron was touched to the powder, and a split-second later the top anvil flew a couple feet in the air and landed with a thud. But you felt, rather than heard the thud because you were temporarily deafened by the blast.

Good times for deaf miners!

Thanks for reminding me.