Propeller of the SS High Flyer -- Texas City TX
N 29° 23.501 W 094° 53.294
15R E 316766 N 3252863
Quick Description: The propeller of the SS High Flyer, the 2nd ammonium-nitrate laden ship to explode on 16 Apr 1947. Her propeller was found a half mile away, salvaged, and displayed at the entry to the Port of TX City until it was moved to the TX City Dike in 2012.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 1/7/2013 8:24:16 AM
Waymark Code: WMG39J
The Texas City port explosions of 1947 stand today as the worst industrial accident in US History.
On 16 Apr 1947 when the SS Grandcamp's cargo of ammonium nitrate fertilizer caught fire and then exploded. The fire started slowly, but grew in intensity as it was being fought. An hour and 15 minutes after the fire was spotted bythe crew members, as it was being aggressively batteled by the Texas City Volunteer Fire Department and ship's crewmembers, the Grandcamp exploded.
The force of the Grandcamp's explosion knocked people over 10 miles away in Galveston, and blew windows out of buildings 40 miles away in Houston. People 100 miles away in Louisiana felt the shock wave created by the blast. The area around the explosions was a moonscape of utter destruction, for miles in every direction.
That same explosion destroyed the Monsanto Chemical Company plant, and caused further explosions of chemical tanks and refineries along the waterfront.
The Grandcamp's explosion touched off an explosion in the SS High Flyer, which was docked next tothe Grandcamp, and also carried a cargo of ammonium nitrate. For hours after the Grandcamp explosion the crew of the High Flyer had trued to free her from her mooring in harbor and float her away from the dock, to no avail. After her explosion, the High Flyer's propeller was found a half mile away, parts of it shorn off by the force of the expolosion and fearsome shrapnel.
The High Flyer's explosion started a domino effect of more destruction: it damaged more refineries that then exploded, and blew another ship (the SS Wilson B. Keene) to bits.
Almost 600 people died on this awful day, including all but one of Texas City's volunteer firefighters died that day.
The High Flyer's propeller was installed in a memorial to the explosion in a small plaza with a couple of state historic markers in the 1980s.
After 9/11, increased concerns about port security led to the decision to remove and relocate the markers and the propeller to new homes. The propeller was reinstalled here in 2012.
We know this because when we stopped at the old site to take pictures of the remnants of the memorial, we were stopped by port security and asked to delete our photos. Port security guards were very polite (if wrong on the law), and directed us to the dike to see this propeller and to Anchor Park to see the historic markers.
The guards explained that after 9/11 the port decided to move the memorial (heavily-visited by the public) to an area that would be more accessible and less of a security threat.
Original Location: N 29° 22.532 W 094° 54.269
How it was moved: Wheels / Dolly / Truck
Type of move: Inside City
Building Status: Public
Related Website: [Web Link]
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