The 1926 Lake Denmark Explosion: An Extraordinary Mishap That Changed Military Safety Standards

Rachael Winston


Prior to 1926, the American Table of Distances did not adequately take into consideration the potential for munition storage facilities to exceed capacities. This study aims to provide an overview of the construction and use of munition storage facilities and examine how the American Table of Distances would dramatically change due to the 1926 explosion at the Lake Denmark Naval Ammunitions Depot. The historical literature examining the correlation between the American Table of Distances and storage capacities is limited, and independent inquiries by the United States Government and first-person accounts of the explosion exist. However, these sources had not been collectively assembled into a study to provide historical context. From this research, it can be determined that it was only a matter of “when” would a disaster strike, as storage facilities up and down the eastern seaboard were experiencing exceeded capacities. This disaster, while unnecessary, provided an opportunity for the Army to respond, make changes, and ultimately allow the government to update outdated safety standards. Additionally, this study serves the dual purpose of highlighting the newly established Navy Hill Historic District associated with the unfortunate disaster and its important legacy.

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. All authors retain copyright.