Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Noel Train Explosion of 1969

Not many people know about the Noel Train Explosion that happened on August 3, 1969 at about 4:00 a.m. I am going to interview some local people that lived in Noel Missouri at the time of the Blast. My dad was only 13 years old when it happened, but he remembers what happened just like it was yesterday. It was never released to the public what was in the box car that blew, but it was a very devastating ordeal. Houses were destroyed, people hurt, and lives were changed forever.


  1. I heard the explosion was caused by wet alfalfa. Maybe you will find out what happened and let us know.

    1. Toosie/Raymond McAnallyAugust 5, 2012 at 8:08 PM

      I have information on this event. You can contact me @ thanks Toosie.

  2. My grandparents lived on Kings Highway just across what used to be a large alfalfa field from the tracks. I always heard that a brake seized up on a tanker car and set it off, right next to several large propane storage tanks, at least one of which blew as well. I remember seeing one tank that lay other there for a long time afterward, that literally imploded. Like a crushed soda can. A 3 inch thick 200 pound piece of steel from one of the railroad cars, buried it's self in my grandparent's backyard which was at least a half mile away from the explosion. We lived in Joplin at the time and my folks headed out there and picked up my grandparents and they went up on top of the hill just east of and along Kings Highway and waited for the all clear. There was one of the large propane tanks that didn't blow, but was ruptured and on fire. I remember for years after that there was debris from the explosion all in the trees along Butler Creek. Up to and including entire wheel trucks from the railroad cars. I believe my uncle Jim Stevens, was sheriff in Noel at the time. My grandparents were Jude and Bertha Stevens. They both passed away in the late seventies and were living with us in Springfield at the time. I haven't been to Noel in at least 25 years if not 30. Spent many a happy Summer there as a kid though. I just happened upon this on Google and thought I would add my two cents. I remember that the state bought the aforementioned alfalfa field from the Lester Rice family after the explosion and moved in trailer homes for those who lost their homes in the explosion.

  3. I was there visiting my grandmother for the explosion - 8 years old at the time. The car had an oxidizing agent for rocket fuel, ammonium perchlorate, which caused the smaller explosion and then dried alfalfa came into contact with it which caused the big explosion. (At least according to one source) I know the propane tanks were involved but I don't think they were the cause of the explosion.

    All I know is that it was one heck of a blast! I still have some pieces of twisted metal that went through the roof of the car. Still have trouble with loud noises, go figure. :-)

    Some articles: (article at the end of the newsletter with some pictures)

    My grandparents had a little summer cabin there. The day of the explosion we left town and they never went back. My grandmother and mother were outside close to the tracks when the car exploded - like others, they had heard the smaller explosion and had gone outside to see what was up. I was thrown out of my bed. I know the house was damaged but what I remember most is all of the broken glass.

    Nevertheless, I had some happy times there, going to the drug store, playing mini golf and playing in the river and creeks around.

  4. Hi Mikayla. I have a lot on noel Mo. Aug 3 1969. I was in Noel that day. I was 16 years old. My name is Toosie/Raymond McAnally ii7plainview Rd Anderson Mo. 64831 Phone#417/223/5055