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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Hundreds Dead: 1947

Hundreds Dead: 1947

April 17, 1947. "Armed troops form a roadblock at Texas City, Texas, as all persons, including workers, were barred from entering the area where new explosions were expected. Fire in huge oil storage tanks burns in background." New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Collection. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

I sailed into Texas City regularly for work

And each and every time we did we talked about this disaster. Truly horrific.

Texas City

My mother was attending school in Beaumont, about 90 miles away, when Texas City blew up. She said it rattled the windows at her school.

My mother used to tell me stories about this

My mother was working there as a secretary when it happened. She told me about donating blood and then going with a friend when she was looking for her husband's body. All that was found of her friends husband was his arm with his wedding ring.

My dad was there

As a five-year-old resident of that city, dwelling considerably farther from the epicenter than this, fortunately. Though I suspect the men in that White M3 Scout Car had already seen much worse.

Big Boom(s)

These explosions were the first time it was realized that Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer was explosive. It's increasing use as an explosive put quite a dent in the dynamite business.

These blasts were studied by the government as a template for what occurs during and after a nuclear bombing.

Double blast

Keeping people away from the scene due to fears of additional explosions was a reasonable precaution. There actually were two explosions in the disaster, about 12 hours apart. While the first blast was responsible for almost all of the deaths, the second one may have been larger and caused even more property destruction. It would have been a major disaster in and of itself had it been the only blast.

Headline News

Aftermath of the fertilizer ship explosion.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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