London High School before explosion|
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
in a Pecan Shell|
The area's first post office (1855) was named London, Texas. In 1877
a school was opened. From its beginning until 1930 cotton
and vegetable farming was the primary economic engine.
When the East
Texas oilfield came in a few miles west of town, everything changed - seemingly
for the better. A modern school was built as well as scores of new homes. The
new post office (established in 1931) had their application rejected by postal
authorities since the name was already in use (Kimble County).
Humble Oil and Refining made New London their district headquarters and relocated
100 families from other assignments. This guaranteed that the community's success
would outlive the boom times.
On March 18, 1937, everything changed
(see related stories) when a gas explosion
lifted the school off the ground, killing scores of people - most all of them
London High School and Monument|
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/%7Etxpstcrd/
the boom continued and a new school was built within a year. During the 1950s
when the East Texas oilfield started its decline, pumpjacks were installed and
the familiar derricks disappeared. Some families remained, but others relocated
and when New London was finally incorporated in 1963 the population was under
1,000 - where it has remained. |
school today is known as West Rusk High School.|
The disaster is commemorated
by an artistic cenotaph showing a male and female teacher comforting their students.
Many of the dead are buried in the cemetery about a half mile east of the school.
Cenotaph & detail|
TE Photo, April 2003
Rusk High School|
Photo, April 2003
London Texas ForumNew
I have looked at your coverage of the explosion at the New London school and you
have done a good job covering it. I hope you can expand your coverage as possible.
My interest is because my mother, Betty Joe Beasley, was one of the younger kids
who was waiting for an older sibling to meet them at the bus. She was waiting
on her sister, my Aunt, Nadine Beasley. Nadine was the young lady that was found
on the remains of the second floor of the building and had to be coaxed to jump
into a mans arms to safety. They both are alive and well living in Longview and
Kilgore.- Randall L. West, Milwaukie, Oregon, August 09, 2006
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic
photos, please contact
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