Construction superintendent S.D. Champlin, left, shows City Marshall George Krieger the live tank shell found in 1956 by workmen who were excavating for a curb and gutter paving project at Victory Way and Taylor Street.

Courtesy photo

Construction superintendent S.D. Champlin, left, shows City Marshall George Krieger the live tank shell found in 1956 by workmen who were excavating for a curb and gutter paving project at Victory Way and Taylor Street.

Craig history: Missile unearthed on Yampa Avenue in 1956

The Colorado Department of Transportation just completed a resurfacing project on Yampa Avenue in downtown Craig this week, and fortunately, they did not encounter the same danger experienced by another street crew in 1956. During excavation and construction work on a municipal curb and gutter paving project that fall, three employees with the Kiewit Construction Company were surprised when they unearthed a 90 mm missile projectile buried at the intersection of Taylor Street and Victory Way in Craig.

After finding the live tank shell, Don Beardsley, S.D. Champlin and Abe Romero turned it over to City Marshall George Krieger, who knew that an unexploded device could pose a serious threat even years later. According to The Craig Empire-Courier, Krieger then “very gently released” the shell to the local 114th Field Battalion of the National Guard. Sgt. Walter Hutton and Lt. James Johnson, working on the theory that the projectile probably was a live shell, took it to the local rifle range. Using eight sticks of dynamite, they detonated it and found the effective radius of the shell was 75 feet. Had the shell detonated at the site where it was found, it potentially could have caused considerable damage and human injuries.

Happily, the remainder of the street work continued without mishap, but the mystery of how the war memento even came to be buried at that location never was solved. Local photographer Shorty Newell, who documented the incident with his camera, sent in one of the images to The Denver Post, where it was published Sept. 25. If any of the Craig Daily Press readers are aware of any other unusual findings during street work in and around Craig, contact the Museum of Northwest Colorado at 970-824-6360 so the incident can be documented.

Mary Pat Dunn is the registrar of the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

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