Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Time Travel, Part One

I downloaded and installed the newest version of Google Earth last night. After checking out the sky, the moon and Mars for a while, I started putting in the addresses of all the places I have lived. It was interesting to see what has changed over the years, and what has not.

The area around my first house in Citrus Heights has changed drastically. I knew that of course, since I still live in the Sacramento area, but to see it from the air made it very clear.

Our house was right on I-80 near Antelope Road. If you're traveling east, the last Antelope Road exit sign you see was right over our back fence.

A little to the west were the truck scales. As the big rigs left the scales, you would always hear them going through the gears as they accelerated up to highway speed. It was a pretty noisy place to live, but like anything, you just became used to it.

Back then, the area north of the highway was wide-open field as far as you could see. As you can see now, it's all developed:

The most indelible memory from that house is the morning my bedroom window exploded. I was only four years old, but it's pretty hard to forget a day when 6,000 bombs go off.

Most people call it the "Roseville Bombing," but the disaster actually occurred at Southern Pacific's Antelope Receiving Yard. On April 28, 1973, eighteen boxcars loaded with Vietnam-bound MK-81 bombs somehow caught fire and exploded all day and well into the night. Over 5,500 buildings were damaged and 350 people were injured. The small community of Antelope was flattened. Amazingly, no one was killed.

It started early that morning as I slept. My bed was situated under the bedroom window, which shattered inward. The glass landed on the bedding, and I escaped without a scratch. My parents and I went out to the backyard and watched as mushroom clouds filled the sky.

Each blast was powerful. I remember feeling the concussion of the blasts move my pajamas as I stood in the backyard.

At one point my dad went up on the roof to take pictures. While up there, a piece of shrapnel struck the roof. I still have the chunk of metal on my desk at work, and it still has the tar and sand on it from the roofing material. It weighs a couple ounces, and I shudder to think of what it would have done if it hadn't missed my dad.

We spent most of the day at my grandparents' house and returned home late that night to find a completely windowless house.

I remember driving around the area a day or two later and peering out the window of our car to see the flat spots where houses used to be.

I found a number of old snapshots taken by a rail yard man. They illustrate the extent of the damage far better than a four-year-old's memory can:

More to come . . .



  1. This was before my time in the area, but I remember hearing about it. Never have experienced bomb shrapnel on my roof...

  2. Well, don't we live in a nice neighborhood. We can't all live in a shrapnel-free zone, Mr. Richie Rich!

  3. You think dodging all those flying Dom Perignon corks and Beluga caviar jars on the yacht was some sort of walk in the park? We had our share of hazards, my man. And finding good domestic staff was not as easy as it sounds!