Chalking Our Story: Commemorating 100 Years


This spring Brucemore is inviting the community to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Douglas Starch Works explosion with a series of programming.

The Douglas Starch Works explosion was one of the worst industrial accidents in Iowa history. The explosion on May 22, 1919, caused damage across the city of Cedar Rapids, leveled portions of the Douglas Starch Works plant, and resulted in the death of 44 people. 

The programming will generate awareness of this momentous event in Eastern Iowa history and create connections between our modern city, the tragic event that occurred 100 years ago, and the community’s resiliency since. 


About Chalk Our Story

On Wednesday, May 22, 2019, Brucemore, will commemorate the 100thanniversary of the Douglas Starch Works explosion with a community chalk project. Brucemore invites individuals and organizations to join us as we spread across the city on May 22 to mark in chalk the locations impacted by the explosion.

To view the chalking: Click on the map here and view the locations and associated stories of people and places. Each place will also be chalked at the physical location, allowing for in person exploration. 

Date: May 22 (Chalking to be completed prior to 9:00 a.m. with public viewing until dusk) 

Admission: Free

Location: Various locations throughout the community

Thanks to Ruth Sergel for inspiring this project through her book, See You in the Streets, which was published in our own corridor by the University of Iowa Press. 

Sponsored in part by: Wells Fargo and Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area

 Learn more about the history and other activities.