— The Harvey’s Resort And Casino Bombing — And, “The Machine”

On 26 August 1980, Two professional movers The-bomb-inside-Harveysbegan moving a covered IBM Copy machine into Harvey’s Resort Hotel And Casino at Stateline, Nevada. But Wait!!! These guys didn’t actually work for IBM.

The next morning the day shift came in to the second floor of the building… only to see THIS. What the hell is it [is probably what they said]? What’s that note on top say? Oh Wow. We’d better call the Cops. The note [read the entire note here] left on top of the device says;

“Do not move or tilt this bomb, because the mechanism controlling the detonators in it will set it off at a movement of less than .01 of the open end Ricter scale.”

Yea! The Police get there… then the bomb squad was called… then the FBI arrive… No one knows what to make of it. That note was very specific. Whomever wrote the note, has thought of everything. The screws can’t be turned or the bomb blows. The bomb can’t be moved, or it blows. You can’t cut through its walls, or the bomb blows. Why would anyone do this?? For the money of course!!

The note demanded 3 Million Smackeroos; or the bomb will be blown. As the Bomb Investigators attempt to look into it, they realize they’re defeated. They’ve x-rayed it and see that it has about 1000 pounds of Dynamite inside. It also has a bunch of switches that look like they might do something on the outside, but there’s another problem with that. Even IF those are fake switches, you won’t know it until you flip some of them… only to realize that they do actually do something (when the bomb blows). Kind of a bummer!

The Machine

A closer look was even more ominous because the people who put it in place had to level it out by placing wood under its leveling legs in order to ensure it was perfectly upright prior to arming it. The note made clear that it couldn’t be flooded with water (shorted out), the screws couldn’t be turned, it couldn’t be lifted up, couldn’t be moved, couldn’t be unleveled, and could not support any form of shock. It had 7 or 8 trigger types (all of the screws would be 1 trigger type) that would detonate the bomb if it was disturbed. It was ferocious. It was x-rayed in place, photographed, and measured. All for not, it was un-defeatable and thus, It was given a name, and that name was, “The Machine”.

Some refer to it as an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).  “The Machine” is NOT an IED.  It is not improvised.  This is engineered as well as any conventional bomb created by government. Anything with over 3 triggers that are NOT command detonated (triggered by the actions of someone) is complex enough to be respected as more than a mere IED.

The note provided exact directions on what to do to ensure that the extortionists got their money. They wanted a helicopter at the ready to bring the $3Million in previously circulated, chemically untreated, $100 bills. The note also said that if they followed directions exactly, the bomb squad would receive instructions on how to move the bomb to another location in order to intentionally detonate it, or to allow it to detonate itself (since it could not be disassembled).


No! The money wasn’t transferred correctly. Law enforcement knew that the bomb was going to detonate due to the additional timers (It had 3 separate timing triggers) so they created a plan to detonate a small charge around the section with all of the switches believing that they could kill the machine by separating the triggers, from the detonation device, from the power source, and/or from the wires that lead to the explosives (very basically).

The Gamble

Obviously, after the bomb was detected, the hotel was evacuated. As word of the bomb spread across Nevada, what do you think happened? Yep, Gambling! Casino’s and Bookies started betting on whether the bomb would blow or not; they also bet on what would happen to Harvey’s itself. Would it be blown down or would it stand?

So What Happened?

And since no lives were in danger, there was even cheering after the bomb blew up. Most of the cheering was probably by those who won money betting on a Harvey’s detonation. The detonation cleared out a 48-62 foot (depending on how you look at it) hole right in the center of the casino.  Did that stop the gambling?  Nope!  Harvey’s put up some window walls so visitors could watch the Law Enforcement and FBI process the bomb damage.

But Who put it there???

John Birges was a prolific gambler that owed about a million and-a-half bucks to some of the local Casinos and needed money to pay them off (before they off’d him). He’d lost a bunch of this harvey4500money at Harvey’s and wasn’t happy about it. He was busted all because of some meddling kids. An employee at an adjacent hotel found something suspicious and wrote down the license plate number of the van that dropped off “The Machine” (I love calling it that). Now although, he was stupid enough to allow himself to be connected to the vehicle that dropped off the bomb, One thing is certain, John Birges, from Fresno, Ca, built the “best” – by which I mean most-ferocious – bomb ever to be used by a non-governmental agency.  It was not the most powerful bomb, however, it remains –even today– the most complex.

Kali Pinckney

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