|Now 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).
In 1931 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 children.
|New London High
School and Monument
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/%7Etxpstcrd/
so, 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
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,
landmarks and vintage/historic photos, please contact