Chester Cemetery memorial, a short distance from the explosion site. Photo courtesy of Joan Horsey.

This Week’s Kent County History Quiz Question: Why will July 16, 1954 be forever remembered in Chestertown?

 A. Partial lunar eclipse

B. Explosion at Kent Defense Industries plant

C. Baurice Fox passed away.

D. None of the above.

 This Week’s Answer: Explosion at Kent Defense Industries plant.

 On the morning of Friday, July 16, 1954, a series of explosions ripped though the Kent Defense Industries’ plant on High Street, now the site of the Chestertown Business Park. The company manufactured military fireworks and munitions. Eye-witnesses described a “mushroom cloud” of white smoke as if an A-Bomb had been detonated. 11 people, ten women and one man, all employees, died in the explosion. Half of the town’s population, those living near the danger zone of the powder storehouse, were evacuated. Fire and rescue units came from 100 miles away. A memorial to five of the women who perished was erected at Chester Cemetery with the inscription: “Working to preserve freedom when suddenly taken July 16, 1954.”

The Kent County History Quiz is a weekly local brainteaser sponsored by The Peoples Bank. Kent County historian and author Joan Horsey contributes to the quiz’s development. Our goal is to create an opportunity for local learning and discussion. If you have a quiz idea, send it to



The Kent County History Quiz is sponsored by The Peoples Bank

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