On October 4th, 1918 a huge explosion rocked New Jersey. According to the book, On This Day In New Jersey History, The T.A. Gillespie Shell Loading Plant in Sayreville exploded, “setting off three days of detonations” in Sayreville and South Amboy.

Three towns (Sayreville, South Amboy, and Perth Amboy or about 62,000 people) were evacuated and martial law was imposed. According to Wikipedia, approximately 300 buildings were destroyed and 100 people were killed and some of those closest to the explosion were disintegrated so as to make them unidentifiable. Damages were estimated to be $18 million in 1918 dollars, which would be around $300 million today and windows were broken as far away as Manhattan and Asbury Park.

It is estimated that the volume of the ammunition that exploded would have supplied the Western Front (in WWII) for sixth months (the war ended a month after the explosion). Various unexplored ordnance and large pieces of shrapnel were found as recently as 2007. The company disappeared about five years later and the land is now occupied by residences.

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