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Aiken in Aiken County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
1953 Gas Explosion
 
1953 Gas Explosion Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Mike Stroud, 2010
1. 1953 Gas Explosion Marker
 
Inscription.
On January 27, 1953, an explosion caused by a natural gas leak killed ten people and destroyed five buildings on the northern half of this block. The five buildings destroyed were Platt's Drug Store, the Jones Electric Company (the site of the explosion), R.W. McCreary's, the Diana Shop, and Liles Drug Company (the former site of Hahn Grocery for many years). The Holley Building and the others to the south, sustained damage, but survived the blast. The ten local citizens (nine from Aiken and one from Graniteville) killed in the accident are here remembered. They are David O. Rutland, Emille C. McCarter, John C. Watson, Charles Nelson Long, Mrs. W.M. Duncan, John Henry "Jack" Neibling, "Bubba" Mosley, Jack Holley, Ruth Madry, and Mae Weeks.
 
Erected 2009 by Aiken County Historical Society.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the South Carolina, Aiken County Historical Society marker series.
 
Location. 33° 33.677′ N, 81° 43.369′ W. Marker is in Aiken, South Carolina, in Aiken County. Marker is on Laurens Street SW south of Richland Avenue W, on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Aiken SC 29801, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are
 
1953 Gas Explosion Marker along Laurens Street Photo, Click for full size
By Mike Stroud, March 14, 2010
2. 1953 Gas Explosion Marker along Laurens Street
 
within walking distance of this marker. Aiken (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); H. Odell Weeks (about 400 feet away); St. Thaddeus Church (about 500 feet away); The S.C. Railroad (about 600 feet away); South Carolina Canal & Rail Road Company (about 600 feet away); Woodmen Of The World (about 600 feet away); Original Survey of Aiken (about 700 feet away); St. John's Methodist Church (about 700 feet away); First Presbyterian Church of Aiken (approx. 0.2 miles away); Battle of Aiken (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Aiken.
 
Also see . . .
1. Associated Press & Aiken Standard, Published: September 27, 2009. Historic Marker Unveiled For Deadly Aiken Gas Explosion (Submitted on March 17, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.) 

2. Aiken's 1953 Gas Explosion. By the beginning of the 1950s, Aiken was well on its way to becoming a progressive and modern small town. (Submitted on December 15, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

3. Explosion of '53 now marked downtown. "They dropped a bomb on downtown Aiken!" local resident Owen Clary shouted Sunday afternoon. (Submitted on October 24, 2012, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

4. Aiken Man Honored As "Hero", Over 50 Years Later. He's 82-years-old, but Earl Young remembers that day, in January 1953, well...not just what he saw, but what he heard. (Submitted on December 15, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

5. David O. Rutland Tombstone. David was a salesman for Jones Electric Company. (Submitted on October 24, 2012, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 
 
The Holley Building, as mentioned Photo, Click for full size
By Mike Stroud, March 14, 2010
3. The Holley Building, as mentioned
 

 
Additional comments.
1. The 1953 Aiken Gas Explosion By the Numbers:
  • 4 people injured
  • 5 hours to extinguish the fire
  • 6 buildings destroyed
  • 10 people killed
  • 33 minutes for rescue trucks from the H-Plant and Augusta to arrive on the scene
  • 200 men worked to extinguish the fire and clear the rubble.
  • $2,000,000 in estimated damage
        — Submitted December 15, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
  •  
    1953 Gas Explosion Marker and northend of the block, near Richland Avenue Photo, Click for full size
    By Mike Stroud, March 14, 2010
    4. 1953 Gas Explosion Marker and northend of the block, near Richland Avenue
     
     
    Liles Drug Company<br>Fomerly Hahn and Company Photo, Click for full size
    Aiken by Paul Miles and Janice McDonald
    5. Liles Drug Company
    Fomerly Hahn and Company
    Founded in 1865 at the corner of Laurens Street ad Richland Avenue. As the company expanded, owner Henry Hahn built this building as on the west side of Laurens Street in 1886. On its lower level was a high-quality grocery store touted as the finest n the South. It carried a large supply of gourmet goods to answer the demand of the Winter Colonists' refined palate. Store patrons could shop and Hahn's would deliver their groceries via horse and buggy. The store operated until 1953, but the building continued serving as one of Aiken's best-known commercial buildings until a gas explosion claimed it in 1956.
     
    Credits. This page originally submitted on March 17, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,501 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 18, 2010, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   5. submitted on June 4, 2012, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
     
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