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.

2 comments:

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.