Mars Bluff, South Carolina
Mars Bluff
Mars Bluff
Mars Bluff
Mars Bluff
Coordinates: 34°12′20″N 79°39′19″W / 34.20556°N 79.65528°W / 34.20556; -79.65528Coordinates: 34°12′20″N 79°39′19″W / 34.20556°N 79.65528°W / 34.20556; -79.65528
CountryUnited States
StateSouth Carolina
CountyFlorence County
Elevation
98 ft (30 m)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
29506
Area code(s)843, 854
GNIS feature ID1246538[1]

Mars Bluff is an unincorporated community in Florence County, South Carolina, United States that bears the distinction of having been inadvertently bombed with a nuclear weapon by the United States Air Force.

History

Originally known as Marr's Bluff during the American Revolution, the area west of the Great Pee Dee River eventually became known as Mars Bluff at some point before the American Civil War.[1][2] Near the end of the American Civil War, the Mars Bluff Naval Yard was established, one of many inland Confederate naval yards.[3]

Nuclear bomb accident

Main article: 1958 Mars Bluff B-47 nuclear weapon loss incident

Historical marker and access sign
Historical marker and access sign

On March 11, 1958 a U.S. Air Force B-47 Stratojet with a nuclear payload left for nuclear training exercises for war preparations in the United Kingdom and South Africa. The navigator mistakenly pulled the emergency release pin which resulted in the bomb falling out of the plane. Although the bomb was not armed with the trigger (a removable capsule of fissionable material which was securely stored in a containment area on board the plane), it nevertheless contained a high-explosive detonator. The resulting explosion created a crater estimated to be 75 feet (23 m) wide and 25–35 feet (7.6–10.7 m) deep. It destroyed a local playhouse, near the residence of Walter Gregg, and leveled nearby trees. Nobody was killed by the blast but several people in Gregg's family were injured.[4] The site is located near US 301, but is difficult to access due to the site being on private property.[5]

Fragments of the bomb are on display at Florence County Museum.[6]

References

  1. ^ a b "Mars Bluff, South Carolina". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  2. ^ Reynolds, William (2012). Andrew Pickens: South Carolina patriot in the Revolutionary War. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6694-8.
  3. ^ "Mars Bluff and the CSS Pee Dee". Dixie Historical Society. June 11, 2009. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  4. ^ Jackson, Gavin (July 25, 2013). "Accidental Mars Bluff bombing survivor dies at 92". The Morning News. Florence, South Carolina.
  5. ^ "Atom Bomb Dropped Here". RoadsideAmerica.com.
  6. ^ "Mars Bluff Bomb". Florence County Museum.