Our Times

Aftermath of the Bowman Terrace gas explosion on Jan. 12, 1950 is shown.

At 3:45 p.m. on the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 12, 1950, as Vincennes was engaged in fighting that month’s dangerous Wabash River flood, a massive explosion rocked the city’s north side. The blast destroyed one of the double housing units at Bowman Terrace, causing five deaths.

Bowman Terrace, completed by the Vincennes Housing Authority in 1940, was comprised of 42 houses, each with units for two low-income families. One unit in the complex was an office, so 83 families could be housed there, and there was a waiting list for occupancy. The houses were built of double banks of narrow concrete blocks. The units were coal heated with gas ranges.

Brian Spangle can be reached at brianrspangle60@outlook.com. His latest book, “Hidden History of Vincennes & Knox County,” published in 2020 by The History Press, is available for purchase at the Knox County Public Library and on Amazon.

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