You’re in the Army now…
As we button our pockets, we might recall that it was on this date in 1940 that the 1,200-acre Hercules High Explosives Plant in Kenvil, NJ, exploded. At 1:30 pm that day, over 297,000 pounds of gunpowder blew up in a series of explosions, leveling over 20 buildings. The explosions shook the area so forcefully that cars were bounced off the roads, most windows in homes miles away were broken and articles flew off shelves and walls. The explosions were felt as far away as Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and were picked-up by the seismograph at Fordham University in New York, about 50 miles east of Kenvil. In all, 51 workers died in the disaster, with over 200 injured and burned.
As the headline below suggests, the incident was widely blamed on the German Bund. But while the factory was manufacturing ammunition in preparation for World War II, and so might have been a ripe target, subsequent investigations ruled that the tragedy was an industrial accident.