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Cannonballs discovered at construction site in Lawrenceville

| Monday, March 27, 2017, 5:12 p.m.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
The spot where Civil War-era cannonballs were found at a construction site in Lawrenceville in March.

At least 20 cannonballs must be removed from a construction site where workers unearthed them Monday in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood.

Crews working construction on apartments at 39th and Butler streets knew they were on the site of the former Allegheny Arsenal, Public Safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said. They were paying particular attention during excavation in case they stumbled across any Civil War-era explosives, she said.

The operator of the excavation machinery noticed what looked like a cannonball in his bucket of dirt, which led to discovering several cannonballs in the bucket, Toler said.

“Lo and behold, there were a lot more in the hole,” she said.

Authorities were able to see at least 21 cannonballs in the hole.

“That's far more than our bomb squad can remove at one time,” Toler said.

Public Safety officials, knowing something like this could come up during this project, had a subcontractor from Maryland on standby, she said. Crews should be on scene within 24 hours.

She said an officer will be stationed at the site until then to keep out the public.

“These cannonballs are pretty stable,” Toler said. “We don't expect one will be accidentally detonated. But we don't want the public trying to get into that construction site and potentially cause harm to people.”

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at

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