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 Pretty Boy Floyd's Gun Did this vintage Colt handgun belong to the outlaw Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd?
- Also in Emerging Modern America: 1890-1930 First Movie Studio Could a broken gateway once have been the grand entrance to a Hollywood studio?
- Related Investigation Drone Propellor Could this propellor have powered a top secret weapon that transformed modern warfare?
- 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 Silent Film Reel Could this film reel could be a silent movie once lost forever to history?
- Also in Emerging Modern America: 1890-1930 Cast Iron Eagle Did this 12-foot-high eagle once grace the old Grand Central Station in Manhattan?
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.