Special Event: N5L

New London School Explosion
80th Anniversary Special Event Station: N5L

Special Event Details
On March 18, 2017 from 08:00 local time (Central Time) to 18:00 local time, members of the Rusk County Amateur Radio Club, N5RCA, activated the Special Event station N5L to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the 1937, New London School Explosion.

Thanks to the generosity and cooperation of the museum, the station operated from within the London Museum and Tea Room, across the highway from the school site. The station ran concurrently with events commemorating the 80th anniversary of the explosion. The station was active on SSB on the 40, 20 and 15 meter bands. We erected an antenna using a large tower already located at the site. Club members KN5G, AG5DA, and W5CWT operated the station with assistance from other club members. Click here for a list of stations in our log.

A QSL card and a Certificate is available for all stations which completed QSOs with N5L. To receive a printed QSL card, please send your own QSL card along with a SASE (at least 3.5" x 6") to "Attn: N5L QSL" and the club's address below. For a printed certificate, please send $1 and a SASE (at least 8.5" x 11") to "Attn: N5L Certificate" and the club's address below.

The Explosion
In the 1930's, New London, Texas, was known as the richest independent school district in the United States. Due to its oil wealth the district was able to construct a state-of-the-art, for its time, school to house grades K-11.

On March 18, 1937 students prepared for an Inter-scholastic meet in Henderson, Texas. Then, at 3:17 p.m., an instructor in the shop class turned on a sanding machine which sparked. In an instant, a good part of the school building disintegrated with an explosion that could be heard for miles. Almost 300 students and teachers died in the blast.

The spark from the sanding machine had ignited accumulated natural gas, from a leak in a crawl space, 253 feet long and fifty-six feet wide, beneath the school.

Fifteen minutes later, the news of the explosion had been relayed over telephone and Western Union telegraph lines. Frantic parents at the PTA meeting rushed to the school building. Community residents and roughnecks from the East Texas oilfield came with heavy equipment. Within an hour Governor James Allred had sent the Texas Rangers and highway patrol to aid the victims.

Within seventeen hours all victims and debris had been taken from the site. Mother Francis Hospital in Tyler, TX. canceled its elaborate dedication ceremonies to take care of the injured. The Texas Funeral Directors sent twenty-five embalmers to assist with the victims.

Today there is a thirty-two foot tall cenotaph in front of the present school, and the London Museum is located across the street from the school.  The museum houses numorus exhibts from the destroyed school as well as a cafe and soda fountain.

The Museum and Tea Room
Today, some of the survivors and family members operate the New London Museum and Tea room. Located across the street from the original school site, the museum tells the story of the school, the explosion and the recovery.

The Tea Room is open for lunch during the week and serves as location eatery for vistors as well as high school students attending the West Rusk school (the consolidated school which now stands on the original school site.

The museum is open Monday thru Friday: 9:00am - 4:00pm (Year Round) and Saturday: 10:00am - 3:00pm (March thru August). Food is served Monday thru Friday: 11:00am - 2:00pm.

Groups wanting to visit on Saturdays must call ahead for arrangements. Large groups should call ahead for any day to set up a time for their visit so volunteer tour guides can be arranged.

Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children. For more information or to make reservations for the museum, call 903-895-4602.

Rusk County ARC
P.O. Box 1496
Henderson, TX 75653