Johns Hopkins tends to be known more for their work in medicine than in advanced military weaponry. Thus, it may surprise you to learn that their Applied Physics Laboratory helped develop the second most important piece of weapons technology of World War II, namely the proximity fuse, an advancement which allowed a shell to detonate without actually hitting its target.
The site where they tested the new technology was Newtowne Neck, a peninsula in Southern Maryland. In 2009, the Department of Natural Resources revamped the longtime farmland (and one-time proving ground) into a massive state park.
But wait, here’s the story: on New Year’s Day a woman walking along the shore at Newtowne Neck found an unexploded 57 mm ammunition! The park was closed down, the Army Corps of Engineers was called in, bomb experts detonated the shell on site, and 26 other pieces of unexploded ordnance were discovered!
The strangest thing is, it seems like it was public (if not “common”) knowledge that the site was used to test the proximity fuse. How many organizations had to forget or not inquire about the history of the peninsula before the park was opened?