Texas City Remembers

Written in April 2012

Texas City, Texas, my hometown, is home to the deadliest industrial disaster in U.S. history. On April 16, 1947, a mid-morning fire on board the French-registered vessel SS Grandcamp, which was docked in the Port of Texas City, detonated approximately 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate. The resulting chain reaction of fires and explosions killed more than 580 people, injured more than 5,000, and leveled nearly 1,000 buildings on land.

Ten miles away, Galveston residents were forced to their knees. In Houston, 40 miles away, windows were shattered, and the shock was felt 100 miles to the east in Louisiana. Property damage was estimated at almost $1 billion in today’s dollars.

The Memorial Park, located at Loop 197 North and 29th Street, was originally a cemetery for the victims whose bodies were never found or identified. In 1991, it was expanded to recognize local soldiers who fought in the wars of the 20th century. In 2007, another section was added to help families who lose a child at any age.

For more information on the blast, go to www.texascity-library.org/TCDisasterExhibit/index.html