Charlestown, IN Magazine Explosion, Apr 1966


Charlestown, Ind. (AP) -- A thunderous explosion destroyed the reinforced concrete magazine loaded with mortar propellant at the Indiana ammunition plant today and left three workers missing and presumed dead.
The three were working in the immediate area of the blast at the southeast corner of this 10,000-acre installation about 13 miles north of Louisville, Ky.
Forty-one persons were injured but all except two were released after receiving first-aid treatment at a hospital in Jeffersonville. Most of them were working at least a mile away from the blast.
The explosion broke out windows and cracked plaster in buildings at Charlestown, five miles away, and caused damage in other areas including buildings near Prospect, Ky., across the Ohio River.
Maj. William G. Lawhead, commander of the installation, said the blast also knocked out doors and windows in some of the 1,600 buildings on the property. The injured were struck by debris and flying glass, he said.
Lawhead said the remainder of the property was safe from any threat of a secondary explosion.
He did not identify the three missing workers but said they were working in the area and it was conceivable they could have been inside the 40 x 80 foot bunker when the blast came.

Daily Republic Mitchell South Dakota 1966-04-27



Charlestown, Ind. (UPI) -- Authorities held little hope today of finding the bodies of three men missing and presumed dead in a violent explosion which ripped a storage magazine Wednesday at the Army ammunition plant near here.
The blast rocked the entire 11,000-acre installation which produces shells and gunpowder for the Viet Nam war, and injured some 45 persons. Two of the injured were admitted to Clark County Memorial Hospital at Jeffersonville.
A hospital spokesman said early today R. V. TETRICK, 34, New Albany, and BEATRICE R. MORGAN, 39, R.R. 1, Scottsburg, would probably be released today. TETRICK was injured when a door caved in and struck him in the back, while the woman was suffering from shock.
Authorities said it was miraculous that no more of the some 2,000 employes on the grounds at the time of the blast were injured.
Maj. William G. Lawhead, commander of the plant, ordered the relatives of the three missing men notified.
He identified them as:
DALE E. LORD, 30, the father of five.
ADAIR HAYES, 53, father of four, both of Charlestown.
WILLIAM C. ZIMBRO, 27, a Sellersburg bachelor.
Lawhead said the cause of the blast might never be learned, adding , the missing men were a powder supply team which went to the 80-foot-long concrete bunker to get mortar propellant.
He said it was not known whether the men were inside the bunker when it was blasted apart.
Witnesses said no trace of the bunker, which was constructed of thick concrete walls and buried in earth, was left. They said nothing remained but a giant crater in the earth.
Searchers found fragments of the pickup truck in which the men were riding in the area around the bunker, but they found no trace of the bodies.
Authorities said most of the injured suffered only minor cuts and bruises from flying glass. They said shock waves from the explosion rolled across the countryside, causing damage across the Ohio River in Prospect, Ky.
MRS. PAT FRANKES, near Charlestown, a teacher at the Prater Elementary School a mile from the arsenal, received minor glass cuts when a window blew in at the school.
All the windows of a 20-unit motel across the Ohio River were blown out by the force of the blast.
Lawhead said there never was any danger of secondary explosions. C. E. Poole, a civil engineer from Charlestown, told authorities he was driving past the installation during a thunderstorm when the blast occurred.
He said he believed lightning caused the explosion and his car was rocked by a lightning bolt as he drove nearby.
"There are so many things it could have been that I have no way of telling at this time," Lawhead said, referring to a cause of the blast.

Logansport Pharos Tribune Indiana 1966-04-28


Mr Lord Charlestown explosion

In 1994 I was working temporarily in Charlestown, and actually had an office in the Ammunition Plant old administration building. While I was there, a local friend took me on a tour of the plant facilities and grounds, a peculiar and surreal experience. All the concrete ammunition storage magazines were still there except for the one that had exploded. Where it once stood was a large grassy crater, about 40 feet in diameter. It was a peaceful and yet oddly eerie site. The legends I had heard so many years ago about the blast were largely consistent with what I just read in this account. Sad that a marker was never erected anywhere in honor of the heros who lost their lives in this tragedy.

To read this article breaks

To read this article breaks my heart. Dale Lord was my grandpa whom I never got to meet but have been told many stories about him. My mom was only 3 when she lost had daddy in this tragic event. We will always love you grandpa!