On September 13, 1848 Gage was a 25 year old foreman of a blasting crew preparing a railroad bed outside Cavendish, Vermont. He used his 3 foot 7 inches, 13 1/4 pound iron rod to tamp gunpowder and sand into a hole in the rock. On this day something went horribly wrong. The rod striking the stone caused a spark and the resulting explosion sent the rod flying up and through his left cheek and out the top of his head. To the amazement of everyone he was not killed and lived for more than eleven years.