Tuesday, August 4, 2015
On Jan. 11, 1917, flames and exploding munitions destroyed the Canadian Car and Foundry Company in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.
"In rapid succession the thirty-nine frame buildings, comprising the plant, were set ablaze and the explosions of the shells stored there could be heard for miles," according to a dispatch published in the Wisconsin State Journal.
Surrounding neighborhoods and businesses also sustained heavy damage. (Lyndhurst was then known as Kingsland, hence the name the "Kingsland Explosion.")
Remarkably, there were no fatalities.
According to the Lyndhurst Historical Society:
"Tessie McNamara, who operated the company switchboard, was credited with saving many lives.
"As the fire raged on, Tessie stayed at the switchboard.
"She plugged in each of the buildings and shouted the warning, `Get out or go up!'
"Escaping workers were able to cross the frozen Hackensack River or run up Valley Brook Avenue to safety."
The dispatch in the Wisconsin State Journal described the scene:
"The town of Kingsland and the surrounding country today bore every mark of having been thru a terrific bombardment.
"Some houses showed gaping holes, thru which the cold wind whistled.
"Roofs of others were perforated. Windows were out.
"The hard rock road near the big munitions plant was pitted with shell holes, anyone of which was big enough to bury a dog in.
"The Delaware and Lackawanna railroad tracks were torn up for a distance of two miles.
"Rails were twisted and ties blown out of place."