Chatham Explosion


This week of the Egyptian Gazette contained a consistent current event throughout the duration of the week regarding the blowing up of an old naval vessel, The Chatham. Apparently being fairly important news, as the vessel had wrecked in a major fresh water canal popular for the movement and transportation of good, this week of the paper held a special section each day for the process of the ship’s disposal. The amount of dynamite that had been acquired to destroy the wreckage was on pace to set a world record for the largest explosion of dynamite to date, weighing nearly ninety two tons. Of course, along with this massive amount of explosives came the necessity to put to plan a series of precautions and emergency aids in case anything went wrong. The explosives were to be carried to the scene of the wreckage by train, and detonated through a length of copper wire hooked up to a detonator.


The townspeople at this time were extremely anxious for the explosion out of fear that some of their personal property may accidentally be destroyed. However, as the week continues on and the anticipation comes to rise, the people near the explosion were shockingly disappointed in the effect of it. Having built up a drastic image in their mind, the world record shattering explosion was fairly disappointing to the people, as they hardly even felt the shock being nineteen kilometers away from the site. The underwater explosion destroyed a decent amount of the naval vessel, while shooting tons of sand, water, and other debris hundreds of feet in the air. While the explosion was considered a success, there was a slight repair process and one of the banks of the canal had been fairly destroyed, and a number of railway lines needed repair. However, officials told the paper that transportation shouldn’t be delayed more than a few days.

Logan Wills
Logan Wills

The author, a student at Florida State University, was enrolled in the digital microhistory lab in fall 2016.