Author David M. Brown will speak next month at Kilgore College about his new book on the New London School explosion, “Gone at 3:17: The Untold Story of the Worst School Disaster in American History.”
The presentation and book signing is set for 2 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at the Randolph C. Watson Library on the Kilgore campus. Brown will focus on how the book came to be, highlights of the extensive research that made it possible, and the need to preserve the story of the New London School explosion as a part of East Texas history that led to safer schools and buildings throughout the world.
The natural gas explosion at the New London School killed approximately 293 people, 269 of whom were children. As a result of the tragedy, communities in the United States and around the globe adopted regulations that require an additive in odorless natural gas of an ingredient causing the rotten-egg smell that people now identify as a warning of danger.
His talk and book signing in Kilgore is part of a two-week agenda discussing the book at libraries and other events in East Texas. “The publication of Gone at 3:17 and other recent books about the explosion helped increase modern awareness of this horrible disaster, but the great majority of Americans living today still have no idea it ever happened,” said Brown, a longtime journalist and former East Texas resident who now lives in Pittsburgh, Penn.
“My hope is that the legacy of the hundreds of students and teachers who died on March 18, 1937, will someday be so embedded in our national consciousness that it is never forgotten and continues to help keep our schools safe for future generations. It is one of the best examples there is of how critical it is that we know and understand history lessons that might help us avoid tragic mistakes of the past.”