In the US state of Wisconsin, a collection of antique railroad memorabilia caused panic for its owner Pat Thoney recently, as he discovered around 50 live railroad torpedoes.
Once Eu Claire resident Thoney realised what he had found, he called the emergency services and evacuated his home along with his family.
The explosives were later detonated safely by experts.
Thoney had bought the collection of antiques from the estate of Benny Bruhling, who had previously been an employee with the Soo Line railroad. Various other items – all perfectly harmless – form the collection, including antique desks, paperwork, lanterns, locks and keys.
According to Thoney, the torpedoes were used before the introduction of two way radios. The torpedoes, which contain the explosive substance nitro-glycerine, would be detonated to warn approaching train crews of any dangers on the tracks ahead of them.
Over the years, the torpedoes may have become unstable. The Marathon-Oneida Bomb Squad was called to dispose of the explosives safely by detonating them at a shooting range on the outskirts of the city. According to the 12-year-old son of Thoney, the discovery was scary but cool – as he probably wouldn’t get another chance to see something like that.
Thoney has researched the contents of the antique collection, which he has compared to a small museum. He said:
“It just shows you don’t know what’s in your neighbour’s garage.”
Reassuringly, antiques bought from a reputable antiques dealer will not contain explosives or any other kind of harmful substance.
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