So the other night I’m flipping through channels when I came upon this History Channel rerun. And right at the perfect time, too, when the program–which details famous incidents when toxic or explosive cargo went awry–was showing footage of pretty much the biggest thing ever to happen in Roseville: on the morning of April 28, 1973, a train carrying U.S. military bombs exploded in the Roseville switchyards. Eighteen boxcars blew apart. The blasts rained debris on houses up to two miles away and, according to the Roseville Historical Society, “destroyed” the nearby town of Antelope.
Somehow, apparently, no one died, though 48 were injured.
Wanting to know more (the program dealt with Roseville for about three minutes), I went online and found this really cool photo of the blast and this really scary AP story saying rail officials were still finding unexploded bombs from the incident as late as 1998.
Still hungry for more information (I sometimes patronize this bar, which overlooks the switchyards), I visited the Carnegie Museum, which houses the Roseville Historical Society. And I wasn’t disappointed: inside I found a big, highly detailed N Gauge scale model of the switchyards at the time of the blasts, complete with a column of gray cotton smoke pouring from the pile of boxcar rubble. Near the model were the remains of the one of the exploded artillery shells.
The museum, like Roseville, is pretty small and quaint, so I walked around a bit. In addition to tons of toy trains, the museum also displays many, many models of World War II aircraft (your guess is as good as mine as to why–Roseville played no discernible role in aviation during the war, and there were no displays explaining why the museum housed so many model warplanes), a bunch of small, upright pianos, a whole display case full of old, moldy medicines that would have been sold at the Roseville Drug Store during the 1950s, shelves crammed with old video cameras and a silver model of the Starship Enterprise.
So yeah. Roseville has an explosive past. Cool.