Gone at 3:17: The Untold Story of the Worst School Disaster in American History

Front Cover
Potomac Books, Inc., Jan 31, 2012 - History - 312 pages
1 Review
At 3:17 p.m. on March 18, 1937, a natural gas leak beneath the London Junior-Senior High School in the oil boomtown of New London, Texas, created a lethal mixture of gas and oxygen in the school's basement. The odorless, colorless gas went undetected until the flip of an electrical switch triggered a colossal blast. The two-story school, one of the nation's most modern, disintegrated, burying everyone under a vast pile of rubble and debris. More than 300 students and teachers were killed, and hundreds more were injured. As the seventy-fifth anniversary of the catastrophe approaches, it remains the deadliest school disaster in U.S. history. Few, however, know of this historic tragedy, and no book, until now, has chronicled the explosion, its cause, its victims, and the aftermath. Gone at 3:17 is a true story of what can happen when school officials make bad decisions. To save money on heating the school building, the trustees had authorized workers to tap into a pipeline carrying "waste" natural gas produced by a gasoline refinery. The explosion led to laws that now require gas companies to add the familiar pungent odor. The knowledge that the tragedy could have been prevented added immeasurably to the heartbreak experienced by the survivors and the victims' families. The town would never be the same. Using interviews, testimony from survivors, and archival newspaper files, Gone at 3:17 puts readers inside the shop class to witness the spark that ignited the gas. Many of those interviewed during twenty years of research are no longer living, but their acts of heroism and stories of survival live on in this meticulously documented and extensively illustrated book.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - debherter - LibraryThing

An excellent narrative of the explosion that leveled a school in New London, Texas taking so many young lives. Read full review

Contents

Newshounds
Holy Sisters
Radio
Into the Ruins
Newsflash
A Blue Patch of
Valley of Death at Sundown
Mother Frances

Wildcats Pep Rally
Farmers
The Black Giant
Lunchtime
Fateful Afternoon
Last Dance
Terror
17 pm 14 Thunder on a Clear
Midnight of the Soul
Dawn March 19
Hard News
Aftermath March 2029
In Memoriam
Interviews
Selected Bibliography
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

David M. Brown is an award-winning journalist with thirty years experience writing for newspapers. He lives with his wife, Mary, in South Fayette, Pennsylvania.

Michael Wereschagin is an award-winning veteran reporter with the "Pittsburgh Tribune-Review". He lives with his wife, Neva, on Pittsburgh 's Northside.

Bibliographic information