Re: Hercules Powder

Dave Nelson

The Sanborn’s for Hercules CA that I’ve look at are blank.  Not even an admission refused notation.  No surprise really… what fire department was willing to go there?  FWIW there were multiple explosives industries on either side of Pt Richmond on SF Bay… Hercules to the east, Giant and Cal Cap were just to the south, and Pt Richmond itself was used for storage and loading ships.  Today, Pt. Richmond is a park.


As for what Hercules Powder made, a substantial portion of their production was Gun Cotton which is made from concentrated Sulfuric Acid, 70% Nitric acid, ordinary cellulous (cotton, sawdust, etc) and a clean water rinse.  Gun Cotton burns at subsonic speeds which makes it ideal for artillery and small arms charges.  They also made high explosives like dynamite for mining & construction… and whatever compound was the “active” ingredient in those artillery shells launched by the gun cotton.


So at a minimum one could properly call those tank car loads Sulfuric and/or Nitric acid and probably be correct.


Dave Nelson


From: STMFC@... [mailto:STMFC@...]

Have you looked at the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps? Major industries were almost always covered in detail on these maps, including rail sidings, and it is interesting to trace changes from map to map.

Yours Aye,

Garth Groff


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