Fort Collins— Fifty pounds of flesh and bone, shattered and in bits, the ghastly sowing of Friday’s terrible nitroglycerin explosion at the Northwestern Torpedo Company storage magazine, near the Wellington oil fields, were gathered by parties searching an area more than a mile in diameter, late Saturday.
The scattered remains tell the mute story of the horrible deaths of George F. Branhuber, 42 years old, oil well shooter, and of his wife, 37 years old, of Casper, Wyo.
In addition to blowing two persons to bits, the explosion destroyed a specially constructed nitro roadster in which the explosive had been brought from Wyoming, reduced the storage magazine to splinters, opening a gaping crater where the magazine had stood, and shook the countryside for miles around.
County Coroner W. T. Hollowell, representatives from the sheriff’s office, and a delegation of citizens spent Saturday in the grewsome (sic) search for remains. Branhuber’s skull, with the flesh almost entirely missing, and one of his hands, were found one-quarter mile north of the scene of the explosion, while other bits were found more than a mile away. Friday, the feet of Mrs. Branhuber and a portion of the vertebral column of her husband were found one-half mile from the center of the destruction area.
Recovered remains are being held at Fort Collins by Coroner Hollowell, pending their shipment to Toledo, Ohio, the home of Branhuber’s parents.
Bills and silver aggregating $80 were found in various parts of the field. Nothing remained at the scene of the blast except and engine block, an auto tire, and some clothing which had been torn from the bodies of the victims.
General Manager Wilson of the Midwestern Toledo Company, which employed Branhuber, arrived at the scene of the catastrophe from Casper Saturday, and it is thought that he will start an investigation.
It is thought 565 quarts of nitroglycerin went up in the blast, although an official from the company declared that there were but 200 quarts in the magazine and on the motor truck at the time of the explosion. Those who hold to the larger figure say that Branhuber had brought 400 quarts from Casper and was unloading it into the magazine while his wife sat in the truck.
The roar of the detonation was heard at Fort Collins, five miles away, and building were shaken and windows broken at Wellington, four miles from the scene. The village of Waverly, a mile north of the magazine, was badly shaken.
Branhuber is thought to have brought the explosive for the purpose of shooting the Leroy well of the Red Feather Oil Company. The magazine was in an isolated spot near where the Union Oil Company drilled a well on the Douglas lake structure, and had been used for storing explosives since that part of the field was abandoned.
The Western Nebraska Observer 18 Feb 1926