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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blasting in Early Smoke Rise

Blasting invoice, Smoke Rise Company Inc.Herb Fisher has been sharing delicious details with us about the early days of Smoke Rise. Have you read his blog post The Early Days of Smoke Rise? It's definitely worth a read. This time, he shares more details about blasting.

Along with the copy of the 1988 Suburban Trends article, Herb recently faxed over a preposterous $11 bill from the Smoke Rise Company Inc. for "blasting rock - cell excavation" dated December 31, 1954. Can you imagine?  The reverse side of the bill featured a map of Smoke Rise with directions on how to reach Smoke Rise from New York, and Newark and the Oranges. It specified a "members' entrance" [aka the North Gate] and a "service entrance" [aka the East Gate].

[By the way, in those days, Routes 80 and 287 didn't exist. From the George Washington Bridge, you would take Route 46 all the way to 23. Interestingly, the current route from the Lincoln Tunnel remains the same: Routes 3 to 46 to 23.]

In his message to me, Herb included several photos [see below] of construction on his parents' property during those very early days of Smoke Rise.

His comments offer more perspective about blasting and construction:

"Obviously, the foundation pictures are 628 Mountain Road where the minor blasting occurred.

The thunderous blasts and a slight earth tremor occurred frequently back in the late 50 and 60s as more and more houses were being built and roads constructed.

I mentioned Walt Uzinowitz (sp) in my blog post. If I remember correctly, he had a regular 'ole truck with cases of dynamite, blasting caps, plungers, miles of wire, jack hammers, stout drill bits, super-size air compressor, and long rubber air hoses. Often he would have a second flatbed type truck, with a backhoe/bulldozer and large woven two ton thick cable mats. He would lay the mats over the blasting site, if houses were in the area. They would help prevent large pieces of granite from flying a 100 yards or more. Sometimes even the mats flew up 10 or 15 feet. He just drove around with no issues at all.

If they still blast today I can not imagine the regulations and permits and placards on the truck, all the training and regulated by all the OSHA and EPA and ICC and Bureau of Mines bureaucrats. If all those folks were around back then, the $11.00 job would cost $111.00. Can't imagine because of the government how much it costs in 2010. And I doubt a seven year old kiddo today could "push the plunger".

Herb Fisher Sr. and Jr., 628 Mountain Road, Smoke Rise, NJ
Herb with his Dad at 628 Mountain Road.
Smoke Rise excavation
The recently blasted and excavated foundation.
628 Mountain Road in progress
Admiring progress on the house!

Thanks, Herb, for this wonderful glimpse of life and blasting in the very early days of Smoke Rise.

Do you have memories and stories you'd like to share?  Let me know.
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