September 19, 2013

East Texas Utopia: Remembering the New London School Explosion 9/18/2013

By Amy Burke,

Photo: Ellie Goldberg, 2007

London Museum & Tea Room
690 S Main Street
New London, TX 75682
(903) 895-4602
It was March 18, 1937, and it was one of the most tragic days in Texas history, but it brought forth a law that would save countless lives in its wake.

The explosion that day at the New London Junior-Senior High School could be heard for miles — ripping down walls, smashing cars and killing around 300 unsuspecting students, teachers and visitors.

At the height of the East Texas oil boom, how could something like this happen at one of the richest rural school districts in the country? I set out to find some answers by visiting the place where it all began — at the self-proclaimed home of the original Friday Night Lights — New London.

The town is small — home to less than 1,000 residents — but the resilience of the locals is evident, especially inside the museum that pays tribute to the school and the victims in the aftermath of one of the biggest school disasters in the country....