My grandfather’s stepfather, Bill Wilcox, “shot” oil wells in West Virginia and Southeastern Ohio from the 1890s to the 1920s. Back in the day, fracking meant drilling a hole, filling a coffee can with nitroglycerine, lowering it very carefully down the hole, and then detonating it (hence the term “shooting” the well). We have family pictures of the process, including an honest-to-God gusher that Wilcox blew.
Obviously, this was a very, very hazardous occupation. My grandfather said that Wilcox told him that for 16 Februaries in a row, at least one of his fellow shooters was blown up. The rapid fluctuations in temperatures typical for that time of year made the nitro unstable, and put that together with icy and rutted mountain roads in West Virginia, or the hills of Ohio, and well, use your imagination. As a result, Wilcox eventually spent every February dead drunk, or so my grandfather said. It must of worked, as he survived into a ripe old age (although his liver was probably twice as old as that).
Any modern analogies anyone can think of?