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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Amatol, New Jersey

Don't look for it on a map, it's not there. It was built during WWI. After that it disappeared.

I watched the movie "Juggernaut" the other day. It is based on a true story of a bomb planted on the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth II. That is the QE2 in the picture.

If you watch many movies, you know that any time there is a bomb to be defused, it always comes down to whether one should "cut the red wire or the blue wire". This movie was made in 1974 and I am willing to bet that this is where the phrase originated.

So I was looking for a picture to post with this little bit of wisdom and I got sucked into one of those internet rabbit holes (take the red pill and I'll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes). It all started with the explosive used in the movie: Amatol.

1880 Picatinny Powder Depot established at Lake Denmark, New Jersey.

1916 The Black Tom explosion in New York harbor . Related to the Annie Larsen affair. More on that farther down.

1918 The explosive used in the bombs in the movie was Amatol, which has a namesake in the town of Amatol, New Jersey, that was built a couple of miles away from a munitions factory during World War I that made Amatol. So was the town named for the explosive, or vice versa? The town no longer exists. What happened to it? No one is telling. Seems to have just evaporated.

1926 The Naval Ammunition Depot at Lake Denmark blew up. It is also in New Jersey, not far from Amotol. The Picatinny Arsenal is still there.

1928 Now we have the Hawthorne Arms Depot in Nevada operated by Day & Zimmermann.

The Annie Larsen was a ship chartered by some German agents to smuggle arms to India. The plan did not go well. They had two ships sailing around in the Pacific Ocean trying to rendezvous. One of the places they were supposd to meet was Johnson Island, or Johnson Atoll, or Johnston Atoll or Johnston Island. There seems to be some doubt as to it's name and just where it is. There seem to be two, both in the Pacific, both within a thousand miles of Hawaii, both used by the US Military in WWII, and since. Which one is which is still a little hard to tell.

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Update September 2016 replaced missing picture.

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