Utah Stories from the Beehive Archive

The Park City Dynamite Outrage

Park City Main.jpg

Dublin Core


The Park City Dynamite Outrage


An explosion reverberated through the sleeping town of Park City in 1894. Residents woke up to the discovery that someone had planted dynamite under the front stairs of a local house.

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 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 living temporarily 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 reportedly 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 the dynamite under the Bogans’ front stairs. He had, however, confronted his wife shortly before the detonation and went away, in the word of the newspaper, cursing and swearing “like a pirate.” He had also been seen near the Ontario mine’s dynamite stores earlier in day. But what seemed to convince at least the editors of the Mining Record that Carroll was guilty was the miner’s track record of using explosives to get his. When his wife left him on a previous occasion, Carroll went to where she was staying and exploded blasting caps on the roof. It was this and other evidence that finally led the police to arrest Carroll and jail him. 


Brandon Johnson for Utah Humanities © 2008


Image: Park City Main Street, c. 1890s. Image of a busy day on Main Street in Park City. Courtesy of Park City Historical Society and Museum, Kendall Webb Collection. 

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


The Beehive Archive is a production of Utah Humanities. Find sources and the whole collection of past episodes at www.utahhumanities.org