archive of legends & netlore:
Construction sites can be hazardous places. The equipment is costly, the jobs sometimes perilous, and opportunities for calamity abound fertile ground for folklore, from the building of the pyramids to the present...
The Buried Bulldozer
As told by Tom Gray...
Only a couple of weeks ago, a fellow in my square dance club (absolutely perfect UL beginning, right?) and I were discussing a new stretch of highway recently completed in our area. It runs through a few miles of swamp, which the old highway bypassed; the new route saves about fifteen minutes' driving time. This fellow assured me that a D8 Caterpiller (or was it a D9? I forget!) was lost in the bog during the construction of the highway. I just laughed, but he insisted that it was true and that it had been reported in the local newspaper.
This one's been around for so long that I just sighed and said, "Oh." and shut my mouth. Let him believe it if he likes. What harm?
The Concrete Tomb
As told by Dennis Meeks...
Just north of my hometown of Piqua, Ohio is a large, concrete bridge at the edge of Sidney, Ohio. The bridge was constructed in the early part of the century and the lack of modern mechanisms made the construction very labor-intensive and expensive.
One day, while working under the hot sun a worker atop the rigging lost his footing and fell into the concrete which had just been poured into the forms to create the pillars of the bridge.
There was no chance the man would survive and to destroy the bridge to recover the body would have cost a large fortune. Instead, the contruction company paid the widow a small fortune to allow his remains to stay inside the bridge, where they still are to this very day.
Unfortunately, I've heard this about bridges all over the country, which makes me believe that there are many clumsy construction workers.
The Explosive Lighter
As told by Roger Pullman...
In about 1982 or 1983 a story was circulated about a Burlington Northern railroad workers who had his leg blown off by and exploding Bic butane lighter.
It seems that the worker who had a Bic lighter in his pocket was walking by another worker who was engaged in wielding some steel. One of the sparks from the wielder (I don't know whether it was gas, arc, or other) landed on the pants of the Bic carrying worker. The spark burnt through the fabric of the pants and contacted the Bic lighter. "The Bic lighter exploded with the force of a stick of dynamite." The worker subsequently lost his leg.
I first heard about this incident in 1984 while I was in the Navy. I was assigned to a patrol squadron based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. A report on the incident had come to the attention of our squadron safety officer by way of message traffic. This was a system not too dissimilar from our current Internet. It was taken as the gospel truth and the safety officer promptly wrote a safety instruction forbidding everyone from carrying any sort of butane lighter in their pockets while working on or near the aircraft.
About a year or two later I came across an article in one of the Navy's safety publications (I can't for the life of me remember which one) that debunked the myth. The author of the article, who was another squadron safety officer, had investigated the story. He contacted Burlington Northern Rail Road, the National Transportation Safety Board and as many other safety organizations as he could. None of the organizations had ever received a substantiated report of any worker anywhere getting his or her leg blown off by any sort of butane lighter.
The frightening thing about this myth was the alacrity with which our squadron safety officer, our commanding officer, and even the upper levels of our chain of command acted upon false report.
The Barrel of Bricks
Further proof that other people's misfortunes are fertile ground for hilarity