Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Texas City, 1947

It might be a good read: "In 1947, Texas City was experiencing boom times, bristling with chemical and oil plants built to feed Europe's seemingly endless appetite for raw materials to rebuild its ruined cities. When an explosion ripped through the docks, the effect was cataclysmic. Thousands of people were wounded or killed, the fire department was decimated, planes were knocked out of the sky, and massive ocean-bound freighters disintegrated. The blast drove people to their knees in Galveston, ten miles away; broke windows in Houston, 40 miles away; and registered on a seismograph in Denver."

The book is City on Fire by Bill Minitaglio (2003), and that's a slightly edited version of part of the blurb, which needed a little editing. I hope that doesn't portend careless editing of the rest of the book, because I'm looking forward to reading another story of a generally forgotten yet enormous disaster, in this case an ammonium nitrate explosion in April 1947 that caused other explosions.

It wasn't something that came up in Texas History class in the seventh grade that I remember -- even though the teacher surely would have remembered the event herself -- nor in Texas History Movies, a collection of comic strips formerly used to teach Texas history that we had kicking around the house when I was growing up. (It's likely that the strips were published before 1947.) I forget where I first heard about the Texas City explosion, but it's always been a shadowy reference. Time to read a little more about it.

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