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.
- 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?
- Also in Emerging Modern America: 1890-1930 Silent Film Reel Could this film reel could be a silent movie once lost forever to history?
- Related Investigation Clara Barton Letter What does this letter reveal about America's early efforts to honor its war dead?
- Related Investigation Harlem Heirs How is this ornate document connected to the earliest settlers of New York City and a potential multi-million dollar land dispute?
- Also with Gwen Wright Special Agent Five How did this tale of robbery and murder help FBI director J. Edgar Hoover consolidate his power?
- Also in Season 6 Blueprint Special Did this record play a dramatic role in the Allied victory during the Second World War?
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.