Looking back: 'Miracle' saves Idaho town from dynamite blast, missing sheriff found and man goes to prison for stealing instrument - East Idaho News

Looking back: ‘Miracle’ saves Idaho town from dynamite blast, missing sheriff found and man goes to prison for stealing instrument

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IDAHO FALLS — EastIdahoNews.com is looking back at what life was like during the week of Sept. 18 to Sept. 24 in east Idaho history.


BLACKFOOT — A former sheriff who was missing for about two years was found, the Blackfoot Idaho Republican reported on Sept. 23, 1904.

“Sheriff Steers obtained requisition papers for ex-sheriff James Davis, who has been found and is now being detained in southern Florida, awaiting the arrival of the sheriff from Bingham County, Idaho,” the article reads.

The paper said this is the “sequel to the strange disappearance of Mr. Davis” on “account of a financial embarrassment in the sum of about $3,000.”

“His friends would gladly have loaned him (the money) had he only made his troubles known,” the article said.


RIGBY — A Malad man was arrested and charged with stealing a horn from Rigby High School, The Rigby Star reported on Sept. 18, 1930.

Ed Russell was brought to Idaho Falls by Sheriff Rhodes where he was arrested. Russell signed a statement “as to the theft.”

“He was arrested here some three years ago for the theft of a musical instrument from the school,” The Rigby Star noted.

Russell was sentenced by Judge Taylor to spend one to 14 years in the state penitentiary for grand larceny.


SPENCER — A Union Pacific Railroad freight train engine was in Spencer when it hit a truck loaded with 10 tons of dynamite but miraculously the dynamite didn’t explode, The Rigby Star reported on Sept. 24, 1953.

The crash happened around 8 p.m. on Sept. 19, 1953, at a crossing of a railroad siding with Highway 91 near Lemon’s Lodge. The train “demolished” the truck and “dynamite was strewn over a large area.”

Investigating police officers said it was purely a “miracle the dynamite didn’t blow.” The truck was loaded with 400 cases of explosives.

The truck driver, William Patrick Lavelle, of Butte, Montana, was pinned in the cab of the truck for about an hour before he could be cut loose. Lavelle injured his shoulder and had cuts and bruises but refused treatment. He was taken back to Montana after the accident by his wife and son.

Lt. Robert McCall, of the state police stationed in Idaho Falls, said the truck pulled onto the crossing when the train hit the truck.

Damage to the truck was estimated at $3,500 and some damage was done to the railroad engine but the article didn’t explain how much.


POCATELLO — Pocatello police investigated a burglary of a candy machine at the YMCA, the Idaho State Journal reported on Sept. 18, 1977.

The Journal said along with the missing candy machine, office files were also “rifled.” Entry to the building was apparently made through a window that was broken out. No other details on the burglary were released in the article.


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