Potentially explosive discovery at Porter County Museum

Civil War grenade removed by bomb squad
2009-04-21T00:00:00Z Potentially explosive discovery at Porter County MuseumBob Kasarda
bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345
nwitimes.com
April 21, 2009 12:00 am  • 

VALPARAISO | Kevin Pazour shook his head when he thought about all the visitors to the Porter County Museum over the last 34 years who have handled a large metal ball labeled as a Civil War cannon ball.

It also was troubling for him as executive director of the museum to think that he once took the ball to a school presentation and that it had likely been on display for many years, as far back as 1938, at the nearby Porter County Courthouse.

The metal ball and two other exhibits were carefully carried out of the museum Thursday in contained vessels by the county's bomb squad.

Turns out the cannon ball was actually a Civil War grenade that still could explode, said county police Lt. Chris Eckert, who serves as commander of the bomb squad.

"It could have caused death or injury," he said.

Also taken out of the museum to a secured site were a WW II live artillery round fusing system and a live firing device from the Korean War era, he said.

Pazour, who was surprised by the discovery, said it came to light after county police Sgt. Ed Clapp visited the museum to make sure the guns on display did not pose any safety threats.

Clapp noticed a few items during the visit that he felt the bomb squad should check out.

Among them was the metal ball that Pazour had taken off public display a few months ago after hearing about a Civil War collector killed by a similar-looking device.

The bomb squad combed through the balance of the museum's exhibit and found nothing else of concern, he said.

Eckert said the bomb squad, which serves a seven-county area, receives about one call a month concerning various explosives discovered mostly at homes. The devices are often a souvenir of a veteran or the product of an ordnance plant that had once operated in nearby LaPorte County.

Anyone with these types of devices in their homes are encouraged to contact the Sheriff's Department.

"Just because it's old doesn't mean it's not going to work," he said.

An attempt will be made to disable the grenade and return it to the museum, Eckert said. If that is not possible, the devices will be detonated.

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