On a sweltering July in 1954 a devastating explosion rocked Chestertown’s tranquility. Abruptly at 10:30 a.m. chaos erupted in the Eastern Shore town of 3,200 people when a blast jolted the county seat. Stunned people, many thinking the Russians had bombed the defense plant or the gas plant blew up, reacted. As they worried about the safety of friends and family, the telephone switchboard buzzed to life, many of the tiny signal bulbs lighting up all at once. The fire siren joined in, wailing out a most urgent plea for aid. Terror stricken people called the operator to say a bomb had gone off or to inquire about the blast. In minutes, a second, larger detonation ripped through the humid morning air shattering windows downtown.
At Kent Manufacturing, a company that made detonators and military fireworks for the government, the accidental blast sent the roof of one building into the sky. Shrieking workers ran for their lives while fireworks shot aloft and burst in the air. In town, the Associated Press reported that hundreds, including mothers wheeling baby carriages, fled across the Chester River bridge to safety in Queen Anne’s County. Firefighters prepared to fight their way into the blazing ruins of the plant to rescue injured workers.
Read more of this interesting article on Reflections of Delmarva Past.