Author Topic: New London, Texas Explosion  (Read 2691 times)

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Offline Ptarmigan

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New London, Texas Explosion
« on: January 10, 2008, 10:58:47 PM »
In recent memories, there have been many schoolyard tragedies ranging from Beslan massacre to Columbine shooting. This one is the worst schoolyard tragedy. New London, Texas, located in Rusk County, is the richest rural county in the nation because of oilfields throughout East Texas. This is in midst of the Great Depression grappling America. A new school is built which holds 500 students and 40 teachers. The school wanted to save money for natural gas bills, which cost $300, they tapped into natural gas straight from the field. It was odorless as a result.  This peaceful and thriving town's world would shatter on March 18, 1937, which was a Thursday. A pipeline carrying natural gas was leaking inside the school. No one could smell the gas because methane is odorless. At 3:05 PM,  Lemmie R. Butler, a shop class teacher, turned on the sanding machine without knowing natural gas is leaking. The spark from the switch ignited the gas. A huge explosions happens and it levels the school. The explosion could be heard miles away. The explosion leveled the school. 130 people escaped without injury. Sadly, 300 to 400 people died in the explosion. It is one of Texas's worst disaster besides 1900 Galveston hurricane and 1947 Texas City Explosion. Some people believe it was sabotage. In 1961, William Benson claimed he sabotaged the pipeline as retribution for being reprimanded for smoking. He wanted to run up their natural gas bills. The explosion bought flurries of lawsuits because no one was held responsible and was deemed an accident. The disaster killed so many children, it sent shockwaves througout the world. Even Adolf Hitler sent condolences to New London. It remains the worst schoolyard disaster in American and easily world history history. Natural gas has Mercaptan, which gives that foul odor on purpose, so people can smell it to save lives. The odor was added as a result of this horrible tragedy, which is law today. The disaster is sadly overlooked in part because the people of New London do not discuss about it and also the Hindenburg explosion happened two months later. The school was rebuilt and opened in 1939 with a memorial to the victims of the explosion.

New London School Explosion
Texas Scape-New London School Explosion
New London Texas School Explosion March 18, 1937
Wikipedia-New London School Explosion
Handbook of Texas Online
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Offline Lord Undies

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Re: New London, Texas Explosion
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2008, 11:07:28 PM »




It is a forgotten tragedy, but not completely.

Offline franksolich

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Re: New London, Texas Explosion
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2008, 11:19:02 PM »
Well, we must be lucky in Nebraska.

I recall an old story in the Reader's Digest, maybe circa 1950, about a church in Beatrice, Nebraska, at the southern edge of the state.

There was one night the choir was to practice at the church.

There were several members of this choir, lots and lots of people.

And of course the maintenance man was to be there, to unlock and lock the church.

Also the minister, who wanted to see how the music was going to go.

And parents of younger members of the choir, who wanted to see the rehearsal.

Lots and lots of people were supposed to be at that church that night (maybe the late 1940s?).

HOWEVER.

Things started happening.  All those--every single one, no exception--were delayed, detoured, for one reason or another (the babysitter arrived late, the organist forgot the music and had to go back home to get it, the maintenance man at home wasn't watching the clock, someone's car broke down, those sorts of things).

And at 7:05 p.m. that evening, five minutes after everybody was to be at the church, it blew up.

Clear up into the skies; a natural gas explosion.
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Offline Ptarmigan

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Re: New London, Texas Explosion
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2008, 11:20:42 PM »




It is a forgotten tragedy, but not completely.

I am surprised it is not as well known. I have read that survivors don't talk about the disaster much.
Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
-Napoleon Bonaparte

Allow enemies their space to hate; they will destroy themselves in the process.
-Lisa Du

Offline Flame

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Re: New London, Texas Explosion
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2008, 08:28:12 AM »
Well, we must be lucky in Nebraska.

I recall an old story in the Reader's Digest, maybe circa 1950, about a church in Beatrice, Nebraska, at the southern edge of the state.

There was one night the choir was to practice at the church.

There were several members of this choir, lots and lots of people.

And of course the maintenance man was to be there, to unlock and lock the church.

Also the minister, who wanted to see how the music was going to go.

And parents of younger members of the choir, who wanted to see the rehearsal.

Lots and lots of people were supposed to be at that church that night (maybe the late 1940s?).

HOWEVER.

Things started happening.  All those--every single one, no exception--were delayed, detoured, for one reason or another (the babysitter arrived late, the organist forgot the music and had to go back home to get it, the maintenance man at home wasn't watching the clock, someone's car broke down, those sorts of things).

And at 7:05 p.m. that evening, five minutes after everybody was to be at the church, it blew up.

Clear up into the skies; a natural gas explosion.

Frank, that's not luck, that's divine inervention!