Park City Dynamite Outrage

© 2008 Utah Humanities Council

The Story:

On the morning of May 3, 1894, a tremendous blast reverberated through the still sleeping town of Park City. The epicenter of the explosion (which bystanders compared to an earthquake) appeared to be the Main Street residence of John Bogan. When the dust cleared, neighbors surveyed the damage and found that the long flight of stairs that once graced the front of Bogan’s house has been partly destroyed and several of his windows had been, according to the Park City Mining Record, “shivered to atoms.” The explosion also blew out windows in neighboring homes and scattered debris up and down the street.

Suspicion immediately centered on a local miner named John Carroll, whose estranged wife was temporarily living in the Bogan house at the time of the blast. According to newspaper reports, Carroll had an abusive streak that drove his wife and children to take shelter with friends. When Carroll’s daughters returned home to give their father a second chance, he purportedly attacked them with a knife, forcing them once again to take to the streets and seek help from the community.

Most of the evidence against Carroll turned out to be circumstantial. No one actually saw him plant dynamite under the Bogans’ front stairs. He had, however, confronted his wife shortly before the detonation and went away, according to reports, cursing and swearing “like a pirate.” He allegedly had also been seen near the Ontario mine’s dynamite stores earlier in the day. But what seemed to convince the editors of the Mining Record that Carroll was guilty was the miner’s track record of using explosives to get his way. When his wife left him on a previous occasion, Carroll apparently went to where she was staying and exploded blasting caps on the roof. It was this and other evidence that finally led the Park City police to arrest Carroll and jail him.


See the Park City Mining Record, May 5, 1894.


3 responses to “Park City Dynamite Outrage

  1. Hadn’t this of this event before — maybe my neighbor’s slammed doors and squealing tires aren’t such a bad form of disapproval after all!

    • Ardis-

      It certainly puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

      I think the thing that attracted me to this story was how “twenty-first-century” it seemed. There’s the angry, estranged husband who forces his wife and children to seek shelter with neighbors. Then comes the violent moment when the husband acts out and ends up in jail. It think it points up the unfortunate fact that familial abuse has a long history.

  2. Interesting. After reading your comment I double checked the date at the first of your post. I was reading it with a much more recent date in mind!

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