Missing dynamite is a worrisome problem, especially when it starts showing up attached to the underside of bridges inside city limits. So Heppner police and Morrow County officials were breathing a little easier in February of 1964 after three 15-year-old boys admitted they were the culprits in the theft and subsequent explosive mischief that had been plaguing Heppner and its environs for some time.
According to a Feb. 24, 1964 story in the East Oregonian, after finding several city bridges wired with dynamite, officials checked the powder building (apparently located near the new high school in Heppner), and found 150 pounds of dynamite and a spool of primer cord missing. Some of the explosive devices they found were rigged with gun shells, from which the bullet had been removed, inserted in the end. Police were alarmed because it looked as though the shells had been pounded with rocks or hammers; anyone succeeding in setting off a blast in that manner would have been killed or seriously injured.
The boys also took their lives in their hands when they used primer cord as a fuse for some of their homemade bombs — primer cord also contains explosives. The boys admitted they used a .22 to set off some of the blasts. And they also confessed to blowing up a cattle guard on Black Horse Road.
The case was referred to juvenile court by District Attorney Herman Winter. At sentencing, Morrow County Judge Oscar Peterson ordered the boys to clean the county road from the city limits to the city dump once a month until the end of the school year, and serve as laborers for road work during the upcoming spring break. They also were ordered to make restitution for damage to the locks on the powder house and the cattle guard.
Most of the stolen dynamite and primer cord was recovered; the boys had used only 10 sticks of dynamite in their attempts to “make a big noise.”