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National Park Mystery Spot 35 Revealed: A Tragic Accident

Debris left by the July 17, 1944 explosion at Port Chicago Naval Magazine. NPS archival photo.

This mystery spot puzzle required you to identify the national park indicated by the clues listed below, remembering that the mystery park is not one of the 58 National Park-designated units of the National Park System.

If you load cargo, weigh anchor, sail out of the harbor, and turn left, what have you done?

Any of the ones stacked on my coffee table can be clipped, but not loaded.

A visit to the Windy City should include a stop at the Navy Pier.

"The shot heard round the world" was not the only big bang that occurred at Concord.


The answer is California's Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial.  Located in the eastern San Francisco Bay community of Concord, this park commemorates a horrific accident that occurred at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine during World War II.  On the evening of July 17, 1944, thousands of tons of ammunition being loaded aboard two munitions ships blew up. The massive explosion, which killed 320 men (including 202 African Americans) and injured many others, was the largest domestic disaster of World War II. The accident and its aftermath, which highlighted problems arising from segregation and racial discrimination in the military, are now memorialized at a half-acre site on a restricted-access military installation. (Reservations and at least two weeks notice are required to visit this park.) 

Congratulations to the 16 (!!) readers who submitted correct answers: Eric, ed-123, Aron, Ken, jchappell740, Lisa, celbert, Eric Nelson, Bil, Lee Dalton, volknitter, OutInTheStiks, viewmtn, RangerLady, tomp2, and Anon 1:06.  All are eligible for our monthly prize drawing.

Here is how the clues lead to the answer:

If you have loaded cargo, weighed anchor, sailed out of the harbor, and turned left, you have left port and turned to port.  (Had you turned right, you would have turned to starboard.)

Chicago is famously known as the Windy City, and the Navy Pier on Lake Michigan is Chicago's most popular tourist attraction.

A magazine of the type you'd find on a coffee table can be clipped (as when saving an article),  but it can't be loaded with ammo like a magazine designed for use with a weapon.

The explosion that occurred at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine was not "the shot heard round the world" (which occured at Concord, Massachusetts in April 1775), but it was certainly a big bang that occurred at Concord.


Bob, isn't it "Memorial" instead of "Monument?" And somehow I overlooked adding my name in the comments section yesterday - I was Anon 1:06. That will not happen again - gotta win a nifty prize one of these months. Concern mounted yesterday as the message was accepted for review, time marched on, but there was no acknowledgement from the Quizmeister.

Thanks for catching that typo, RoadRanger. I've made the correction, and if I ever manage to locate Traveler's fact checker I am going to pummel him profusely about the head and upper torso.

I heartily encourage everyone to visit Port Chicago.  It was a very interesting and moving experience.  You do have to call ahead to get on one of the tours, as that is the only way to access the site, unless things have changed recently.  You can also arrange a tour to the equally interesting Eugene O'Neill NHS nearby.  I'm thinking I may have to pay both a return visit this summer.

I would note that the site is on an active military reservation, and tours are only open to US citizens and permanent residents. They will ask for specific ID numbers during the reservation process.

I suspect they may mean US nationals, although the distinction between "citizen" and "national" is a very fine one. There are non-citizen US nationals. Look up the nationality law in American Samoa.

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