Catastrophic explosion kills hundreds in Texas City
On this day in 1947, the ship SS Grandcamp exploded at the docks in Texas City. The French-owned vessel, carrying ammonium nitrate produced during wartime for explosives and later recycled as fertilizer, caught fire early in the morning. While attempts were being made to extinguish the fire, the ship exploded. The entire dock area was destroyed, along with the nearby Monsanto Chemical Company, other smaller companies, grain warehouses, and numerous oil and chemical storage tanks. The concussion of the explosion, felt as far away as Port Arthur, damaged or destroyed at least 1,000 residences and buildings. The ship SS High Flyer, in dock for repairs and also carrying ammonium nitrate, was ignited by the first explosion; it was towed 100 feet from the docks before it exploded the next day. The ship's anchor monument records 576 persons known dead, only 398 of whom were identified. Probably the exact number of people killed will never be known.