Image via Wikimedia Commons, Murray Becker/Associated Press
Today, the New Jersey town of Lakehurst is relatively quiet; the “hot news” on the town’s website includes articles about fishing contests and recycling. But seventy-six years ago, the area was bombarded with international attention when the skies over it went aflame. While attempting to dock at the mooring mast of the Lakehurst Naval Air Station just outside of town, the Nazi German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg burst into flames and crashed to the ground in under 40 seconds.
Image via Wikimedia Commons, William Deeke/Pathe
What can you do when you become known for the most infamous (and well-photographed) zeppelin disaster in history and the 36 fatalities that ensued from it? You give tours. The Navy Lakehurst Historical Society, both commemorating the victims of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster and providing a look into the still-active naval base there, provides tours of the crash site, the Navy Lakehurst Heritage Center, and the Airship Information Center.
The crash site itself has avoided the dramatization and sensationalism that the story of the Hindenburg is often given. (A speculative book and a 1975 film about the zeppelin attributed the fire to anti-Nazi sabotage, although little evidence of sabotage was found.) The footprint of the crash, on a vast, flat expanse of airfield, is outlined with an anchor chain and filled with cement. A small metal silhouette in the shape of the zeppelin sticks out from the ground on a pole. It’s wind-turned, suggesting… powerlessness, maybe? You can sign up for a tour here, but you’ll need to be an American citizen and schedule at least two weeks in advance for screening and security reasons.
Contact the author @LaraElmayan.