11 January

The Kingsland Explosion was an incident that took place during World War I at a munitions factory in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, United States. On this day in 1917, a fire started in Building 30 of the Canadian Car and Foundry Company in Kingsland. In 4 hours, probably 500 000 pieces of 76 mm (3″) -high explosive shells were discharged. The entire plant was destroyed. An arbitration commission in 1931 determined that, “In the Kingsland Case the Commission finds upon the evidence that the fire was not caused by any German agent.”

The U.S. was officially neutral, but American and Canadian companies supplied goods to the Allies giving an incentive for acts of sabotage on American soil. The acts were largely symbolic rather than having any real effect on the war supply efforts and only two acts were of even marginal importance, given the scale of the conflict. It is generally accepted that the acts of sabotage were carried out by the Germans although Germany never formally admitted responsibility. The Kingsland explosion was suspected in the popular media of being German sabotage, but there was no evidence implicating any German official.

The Canadian Car and Foundry Company, based in Montreal, had signed large contracts with Russia and Britain for delivery of ammunition. An enormous factory was constructed in the New Jersey Meadowlands, which was then referred to as Kingsland. The company executives decided not to take any chances with security for their plant. They constructed a six-foot fence around the plant and hired security guards to conduct 24-hour patrols around the perimeter and to screen each worker as they entered the plant. It was located on the site of Lyndhurst’s present industrial park. A brick stack, believed to be the remaining part of the Foundry, is located in the area bounded by Valley Brook Avenue, Polito Avenue, and the office buildings on Wall Street West.