Black Tom Shell
A woman in Whitehouse Station, NJ has an explosive artifact in her possession: a large, intact artillery shell, along with a note in her mother's handwriting which reads “Black Tom Explosion of 1914.”
Elaine's mother's record-keeping is off; it was not 1914, but July 30, 1916 when a German spy ring carried out a well-planned set of synchronized explosions on Black Tom Island in New York's harbor, using the United States' own cache of munitions produced to aid Britain and France in World War I.
Two million pounds of exploding ammunition rocked the country as far away as Philadelphia, blew the windows out of nearly every high rise in lower Manhattan, injuring hundreds.
History Detectives determines whether this shell was involved in one of the earliest foreign terrorist attacks on American soil.
- Related Investigation Civil War Deringers Are these pistols union or rebel?
- Related Investigation Cemetery Alarm Was this explosive device used to stop a morbid black market trade?
- Also in Season 7 George Washington Miniature Did the artist paint this portrait from life, and what is its surprising connection to the abolitionist White Matlack?
- Also in Season 7 Manhattan Project Patent Was this drawing part of America's secret plans to fuel the atomic bomb?
- Also in Emerging Modern America: 1890-1930 Coney Island Lions Could this be an artifact from the bygone days of early amusement parks?
- Also with Gwen Wright Monroe Letter Does this letter link America's President to the high seas piracy of U.S. merchant ships in the early 1800s?
This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion; a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don’t conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.