Support Us Button Widget

The Great Banana Explosion from 1946 in Columbia, SC

Curb Market

Assembly Street’s curb market in 1934 | Photo by Russell Maxey provided by Richland Library’s Digital Archives

Last month, Reader Peter S. wrote in and gave us the scoop on the “Great Banana Explosion.” That name alone got our attention, so we began doing some research.

In 1946, Assembly Street looked a little different. Stretching about 10 blocks, Assembly Street’s curb market was Columbia’s agriculture hub for produce for over 80 years. On Thurs., Nov. 14, 1946, The State Newspaper reported there was a 100-ft wide explosion.

Curb Market

Assembly Street’s curb market in 1934 | Photo by Russell Maxey provided by Richland Library’s Digital Archives

To transport the bananas to the market, the fruit would usually ship green at 54º and ripen using ethylene gas in a banana-ripening chamber before being sold for consumption. Late, Fire Chief A. McC. Marsh reported the explosion occurred on the 900 block of Assembly Street likely due to the strike of a matchwhen lighting a cigarette that was in close contact with the combustible gas.

The explosion killed five, injured eight, and caused between $10,000-$15,000 in property damages (about $187,000 today’s dollars).

Assembly Street’s curb market was eventually moved to Bluff Road in the early 1950s and was coined the The Million Dollar Market” before it was taken over by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.

The market currently sits as the SC State Farmers Market at 3483 Charleston Hwy. in West Columbia. For information on events or to see which produce is in season, visit the SC State Farmers Market’s Facebook page.

Have other pieces of history you want us to cover? Let us know here.

More from COLAtoday
The CB90 rental properties and The Hangar Lofts offer uniquely Columbia options for short term rentals and are ideal for Gamecock weekends.
Made with Cola Love’s latest activation features PSYCHii, a creative agency, offering marketing and production workshops at 2222 Sumter St.
Cola is well represented on the world stage at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics — these are some locals to watch.
Godspeed, a new specialty coffee pop-up by Roger Caughman and Kailey Cunningham, focuses on building community connections with each pop-up.
We’ve got details and a map full of drink deals: We’ll be highlighting the vibrant beverage scene across Columbia, SC from July 22 to July 26, 2024.
The yearly fundraising event, hosted by the West Columbia Beautification Foundation, raises money for local beautification projects, including ongoing development for Highway No. 1.
The Five after Five outdoor concert series
Chef Alex Strickland of The Dragon Room, also the lead singer of metal band Abacus, discusses his favorite dishes, local foodie spots, and balancing his culinary and musical creativity.
Entrepreneurs come from everywhere, including The Midlands. Read about three products that have been featured or inspired by the show “Shark Tank.”
Looking for a night out and an evening full of local music with friends and family? Head to Jammin’ in July this weekend.