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A Blast in Kranesville: Wiki: Kranesville, TX

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Kranesville, TX

Kranesville is a city in Yazzu County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 2,804. It is named after J.M. Krane, a mysterious inventor and founding resident of the city. The city is located in the mid-north-central part of Texas, approximately 80 miles (128 km) east-west of a major cultural and economic metropolitan city.


I. Fast Facts

Geography: 

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.0 sq mi (10 km2), all land, though dotted with small lakes and cattle ponds. A small section of the city is located along Interstate 22.

Climate:

The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Kranesville has a humid subtropical climate.

Area Events:

The Kranesville Fuel Stop, a noted roadside gas-and-snack stop on Interstate 22.

The Kranesville Flower Fest is a yearly festival celebrating the city's large numbers of wildflowers, particularly the somewhat greenish variety of the species of Lupinus (bluebonnets) that cover the fields in the springtime.

Education:

The city of Kranesville is served by the Kranesville Independent School District and is home to the Kranesville High School Dogcats.

II. History

The first settlers of northern Yazzu County arrived in the 1840s. They were farm and ranch families drawn from the east by the rich lands made available by the government sale of land to build schools in Texas. The area farmers cultivated the land and grew cotton, wheat, and grain sorghum, and raised cattle. The farming community centered around a freshwater spring that became known as Fertile Springs. In 1860, Fertile Springs had a population of about 300 and provided services such as a blacksmith, churches, and a post office.

The Connecticut–Carolina–Texas Railroad was laid across Texas in the early 1880s. The path of the railroad passed through land owned by Jeremiah Milton Krane, who had moved to the area in 1859. He farmed land that he had purchased and was remembered in Fertile Springs as a reclusive and enigmatic inventor. A train depot was built on the land he sold to the railroad company and the land running beside the tracks was divided into small sections and sold to people wanting to start businesses. 

The railroad brought prosperity to the area during the 1880s. More businesses were opened and more surrounding land was purchased. Immigrants from an unusually large range of countries came to the area, purchasing the rich lands to farm and start a fresh life in the new world. They also opened businesses. Many worked at J.M. Krane’s colossal factory on the edge of the settled area. On April 11, 1892, Fertile Springs was officially organized into the town of Kranesville. It had become the center of commerce for the area. There were cotton gins, grocery stores, churches, schools, and doctors' offices. One noted feature of the town that set it apart from other settlements was the three-story, sprawling Krane factory, perhaps the largest man-made structure for miles.

The turn of the century brought electricity, running water, and natural gas. The population of Kranesville and surrounding area grew. Many of the descendants of the original settlers continue to farm the lands and run the businesses today. 

III. J.M. Krane, city founder

Little is known definitively about the Kranesville town founder Jeremiah Milton Krane.

Described at the time of his arrival in the area as a stand-offish gentleman, tall in stature, with gleaming eyes and a large, bushy handlebar moustache. He was an autodidact, known to have studied engineering in his youth and was considered a well-educated man by the few people who interacted with him.

Krane had come from the East, possibly even from Europe before that, and settled quietly in the Fertile Springs area. He was known for his immense work ethic and mysteriousness. Most of his neighbors found him courteous and hard-working but did not know him well. Except for a single strange incident in the town saloon in the early 1870s, recounted some years later by the proprietor of the establishment, P. Ridley Stevens, almost nothing is known about Krane prior to his building his colossal factory.

“Mr. Krane seemed distraught. He was not a regular at the Tender Heart Saloon, and to see him there that night, especially imbibing as he was, just brought a person to a’cryin’. Seems his father had passed and that was why he was so upset. As he got drunker and his tongue got looser, he started saying crazy things. He wished his father could have seen him now, and wouldn’t he have been proud of his boy, for inventing a new way to harness energy. He swore he had invented a device that could reach into another dimension, another reality, and pull untold amounts of power from it. Before anyone could ask him what he meant, he hurled his glass to the ground then went ahead and passed out. I drove him by wagon back out to his place and left him sawing logs on his porch. Wanted to make sure he got back alright, such a state he was in. I didn’t envy him the pounding head he’d have the next morning. Nuthin’ rare about such behavior when you work as a barkeep, to tell the truth. We never saw old Krane at the saloon again…”

A year after the encounter at the Tender Heart, Krane bean construction on a massive building, larger and taller than anything else in the region at the time. The sign out front read J.M. Krane Company. The entire building was surrounded with barbed wire and vicious dogs. Residents at the time remember hearing the sounds of whirring machinery coming from within and one local rancher swore he saw “green light” coming through the high windows of the factory on dark nights.

The factory became an economic engine for the town for many years, employing up to 40% of the community during some years. It was not clear what the factory manufactured or produced, but Krane managed to not only keep the factory in business, but the profits seem to grow exponentially.

One notable visitor to the factory was President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt arrived alone, on horseback, on a sunny day in late 1902. Krane met him outside the building and the two men talked for a short while.

Roosevelt insisted on a tour (“For reasons of national defense, you see.”), but Krane politely refused. Roosevelt asked again, but Krane was firm in his refusal. Roosevelt slapped him on the shoulder and said,” Bully for you, sir, I was hoping you would stand your ground. Keep what you have here close to your vest. Produce much, but give away nothing.”

Laughing heartily, Roosevelt mounted his horse and rode back towards the train station.

J.M. Krane was not seen in public again. He took a wife in his later years. He married Annabelle Grassin-Baledans in a private home ceremony in 1891. Together they had one son, Joseph Milton.

He died in his home at the age of 82. His grave was unmarked and dug in a small plot next to the factory he had built.

IV. The Krane legacy and the Krane Company Factory

After, J.M. Krane’s death in 1919, his son took over the factory. Joseph Krane was thought to be nearly as brilliant as his father and equally as private. He showed a talent for chemical engineering. He added to the senior Krane’s list of patents concerning some sort of “portal” machinery with the identification of several incredibly rare chemical compounds. Much of these patents and discoveries were later deemed classified by the United States military and have yet to be declassified and released under the Freedom of Information Act. 

Joseph Milton Krane stayed out of the public record nearly as much as his father, with two notable exceptions.

In 1931, Krane was among those invited to attend a large party in New York, in celebration of Nikola Tesla’s 75th birthday. Until that point, it was unclear that the two even knew each other. The event was covered by the press and arranged by a young science-fiction writer named Kenneth Swezey. There was a massive spread of food and drink. Having too much brandy, Krane and Tesla got into a heated discussion for nearly half an hour off in a darkened corner. Partygoers at the time half remember Krane laughing at some idea Tesla proposed about a motor that ran on cosmic rays. 

“You haven’t cracked it yet, Tesla, you’re still years behind where we are in Texas,” Krane was heard to reply before smashing his glass on the floor and leaving. Joseph Krane never left the state of Texas again.

In the winter of 1957, Joseph left the family business for a brief sabbatical. He moved to Dallas, Texas and worked for about a year as a custodian at Texas Instruments. While there he struck up a friendship with an electrical engineer named Jack Kilby who, as a new employee had not yet earned the right of summer vacations. Throughout the summer of 1958, Krane helped informally as Kilby worked on a circuit design problem. With Krane’s help Kilby solved the problem and in the process invented the integrated circuit. Krane demanded that he remain anonymous in the creation of the microchip which helped usher in the computer age (and for which Kilby eventually won the Nobel Prize in Physics). Soon after Krane returned home to the Krane Co. Factory. 

Eventually, upon his own death in 1972, Joseph Milton Krane in turn, passed the ownership of the factory on to his own sons, Milton Ellwood and Grassin Oliver Krane. 

Milton and Grassin Krane proved a continuation of the family legacy of genius and reclusiveness. The brothers apparently disagreed over many things, including a certain contract negotiation. Milton was in favor of selling the business to the United States Department of Defense in 1988, the tail end of the Cold War, for an undisclosed amount. Grassin Krane was against the government “seizing” the factory and ideas his grandfather and father had created. In anger, Milton swore to “end everything.”

On a cold autumn day in 1989, Milton entered the Krane Co. Factory with the intention of destroying the machinery within. One worker that day witnessed Milton raise all controls on one particular machine to dangerous levels. Alarms were heard. The workers at the factory began to evacuate the premises. A few remember seeing a strange green light get brighter and brighter from within the building. Grassin Krane arrived on the scene and ran into the factory to save his brother. Just as he and a fellow worker were about to enter, a loud crack, like a thunderclap, was heard accompanied by a blinding green flash.

Grassin and the worker entered immediately after, only to find Milton’s shoes on the ground facing the massive machine. Green mist rose from them. There was no sign of Milton. He had disappeared. An extensive three-day search did not yield so much as a clue to Milton’s whereabouts. 

The worker next to Grassin, on his deathbed many years later, told his wife about the moment.

“Mr. Grassin looked down at his brother’s shoes then up at that glowing green opening on the machine. He teared up for a moment, then muttered softly under his breath, ‘The damn fool…’”

The next week, Grassin closed the factory and sealed up the building. It remained abandoned from that point inward. Upon exiting the factory for the final time, workers were met outside by Grassin Krane himself and a team of lawyers. After signing paperwork and each being personally handed an immensely generous severance package, Grassin had champagne glasses handed out to the 128 factory workers present. Champagne was poured and Grassin held his glass aloft. The workers followed suit. Grassin spoke: “My grandfather thanks you. My father thanks you. And I thank you. With your help we leapt ahead of Tesla, ahead of Einstein, ahead of Higgs. But now I see, we cannot harness the multiverse and not pay the price. I wish only that my brother had realized that in time. So we call today the last. A final huzzah, dear gentlemen and valued ladies, with extreme gratitude for your tremendous efforts.”

A chorus of “Huzzah” was heard, a drink of champagne for all present, and in unison, everyone hurled their glasses to the ground. Then, in silence, the crowd dispersed.

Grassin Oliver Krane disappeared off the public record after this. He notably surfaced only once more before his death in 2012.

In 2004 he was spotted at an Internet telephony press conference in Brampton, Ontario, Canada at Nortel Networks. He was standing next to John H. Yoakum just before Yoakum was to give an address. He turned to Krane and asked what he should call the theory he was about to announce.

“Name it after Phil,” Krane was heard to reply. 

The Phil he was referring to was Yoakum’s colleague, Phil Edholm, Nortel's chief technology officer and vice president of network architecture. The theory Yoakum announced that day came to be known as Edholm’s Law. It is not clear if Grassin Krane was an employee of Nortel or merely a friend of both Mr. Yoakum and Mr. Edholm.

Between 1873 and 1989, many people, generations, in fact, of Kranesville residents worked in the Krane Co. Factory. Perhaps due to the aggressive Non-Disclosure Agreements ( a contingency of employment) and the generous bonuses handed out each and every year, almost no one who worked at the factory has ever come forward to describe exactly what the factory made, how it operated or what was actually housed within.

V. 2019 Explosion

On March 16, 2019, an explosion occurred at the old, long-abandoned Krane Co. Factory, just outside the city limits. The factory had been shut and closed for decades. It is unknown what triggered the colossal explosion. 

The explosion, which measured as a 2.1 magnitude tremor, shook structures and cracked windows throughout the town. Only a few dozen minor injuries were reported and no casualties. The initial blast damaged several dozen homes in small ways throughout the surrounding area. 

A crater measuring 12 feet deep and 108 feet wide was left at the ruinous site of the old Krane Co. Factory. Only the shell of the former building still stood and the scorched remains of assorted machinery within. The entire area was littered with debris. Approximately twenty minutes after the initial explosion, a faint green mist began to rise up from beneath the building site. This strange bank of mist spread outward from the blast site, thick from the ground up to around three feet off the ground and covered the surrounding area for a radius of at least half a mile.

Inexplicably, before first responders could fully address the aftermath of the explosion and the mysterious green mist, an unknown government force moved in and took control of the site of the explosion.

A month-long citywide lockdown was instigated for the citizens of Kranesville. Many citizens of the town believed the government force to simply be National Guards on the ground in response to a potential environmental crisis. This belief was widely spread as a rumor around town and supported by the troops in drab uniforms and the obvious governmental plates on vehicles.

Citizens were ordered via text message to remain in their homes for their own safety. Many townspeople believed the safety precautions had to do with the strange green mist that emanated from the blast site after the factory explosion. 

During this time, troops patrolled streets and a large tent was erected as a research base near the explosion site. Men and women in hazmat suits, then later in white lab coats could be seen around the area.

After approximately four weeks, the government troops left town as mysteriously as they had arrived. Every scrap of the former Krane Co. Factory building had been removed from the blast site.

Despite the continuous insistence by some curious members of the town, the authorities declined to answer any questions about exactly what governmental organization they represented, what exactly caused the fire and explosion, what the green mist was, or why the town had been put on lockdown.

To date, the explosion has garnered almost no media attention outside the town itself. The entire incident is seemingly shrouded in mystery, leaving those involved a lingering sense of confusion and frustration at the whole “more questions than answers” nature of the episode.