Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

West Plains Dance Hall Explosion

I've been reading a book by Lin Waterhouse entitled The West Plains Dance Hall Explosion. It's about a tragedy that occurred in West Plains, Missouri, on the night of Friday, April 13, 1928, in which 39 people were killed and numerous others injured. A dance was taking place on the second floor of a building on East Main Street just off the square when a tremendous explosion on the bottom floor of the same building (where an auto dealership was located) blew apart not only the building where the dance was taking place but also the two buildings on either side of the dance hall and set them on fire. The dancers, most of whom were young people from prominent families, were blown momentarily upward before plunging down into a large heap of burning debris. Many who were not killed by the initial explosion were trapped in the rubble and burned to death.
What is surprising to me is that, despite the magnitude of the tragedy and despite the fact that I'm a life-long resident of the Ozarks with an interest in the region's history, this is an event that I had never even heard about until the book came out a month or so ago. One of the points Ms. Waterhouse makes in the book, however, is that many people who survived the tragedy didn't like to talk about it, and it became almost a hush-hush subject in subsequent years. So, maybe that is partly why I'd never heard about it. Anyway, the book is interesting, particularly, I would think, for anyone who has a connection to West Plains.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Unknown said...

I heard of the west plains explosion from my parents my dad had a 78 record that came out with the song about the explosion that I now have would like to read the book wrote about it

January 28, 2017 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I heard of the west plains explosion from my parents my dad had a 78 record that came out with the song about the explosion that I now have would like to read the book wrote about it

January 28, 2017 at 4:30 PM  

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