STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Vigo County Bicentennial: The Fontanet disaster

In Fontanet there was a factory known as the Dupont Powder Mill. In 1907 the mill caught fire. That would cause an explosion destroying the town killing nearly forty people in the community.

Posted: Sep 26, 2018 6:29 PM

FONTANET, Ind. (WTHI)- Fontanet may be pretty quiet but it used to be a busy mining town. Marietta Cooper has called Nevins Township home her entire life.

Cooper’s family still remembers the tragedy that struck over one hundred years ago.

"My grandmother was born in 1898. She was nine when it exploded. Oh, she said it was just… it was just a shock. Even the children. She just said they just stood around and cried," said Cooper.

In Fontanet there was a factory known as the Dupont Powder Mill. It produced powder to help break down large chunks of coal, but in 1907 the mill caught fire.

That fire would cause an explosion destroying the town killing nearly forty people in the community.

"There was a general store right next door to this building and there are caskets stacked out in the street," said Cooper as she showed a picture of caskets being stacked on top of each other.

The remains of the Dupont Powder Mill can still be found in the woods in Fontanet said Bill Herb who also called the Nevins Township home.

The whole situation began when a machine gave off a spark causing three separate explosions. The biggest of those being the second which was a keg mill which had forty thousand kegs of powder.

"And of course people say they had felt the concussion over in Cincinnati, but here in Fontanet it blew the windows out of all the houses, roofs off of them," said Herb.

It took months for the community to recover from the deadly explosion. People grew closer as they expressed their loss.

They shared poems and songs, like one named the “Fontanent Disaster” reflecting on the tragedy. From death and darkness, they grew new life and family.

"It’s like we're all family, we're not bloodline. It's the Fontanet family and we care about each other and it‘s what I want to keep alive."

If you would like to see more or submit your own idea for what we should cover next, Email Garrett Brown at Garrett.brown@wthitv.com.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 32437

Reported Deaths: 2030
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9371546
Lake3347170
Cass15867
Allen135366
St. Joseph121834
Hendricks113567
Hamilton112391
Johnson1092104
Elkhart107028
Madison58259
Porter49521
Bartholomew48634
Clark47141
LaPorte41523
Tippecanoe3803
Howard37620
Jackson3681
Delaware35936
Hancock32327
Shelby32121
Floyd31539
Boone29335
Morgan27024
Vanderburgh2532
Montgomery23317
White2288
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Grant19521
Noble19221
Harrison18821
Dubois1852
Henry1709
Greene16824
Warrick16528
Dearborn16421
Monroe16211
Vigo1507
Lawrence14623
Miami1391
Putnam1347
Jennings1284
Orange12422
Scott1183
Ripley1136
Franklin1068
Kosciusko971
Carroll932
Daviess8416
Marshall801
Steuben802
Wayne755
Newton7410
Wabash732
Fayette714
Jasper621
LaGrange622
Washington521
Fulton471
Jay460
Randolph453
Rush452
Jefferson421
Whitley412
Clay411
Pulaski400
Owen341
Sullivan331
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke313
Perry260
Wells260
Huntington262
Knox250
Benton250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford202
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Parke180
Spencer171
Posey160
Gibson142
Ohio130
Warren121
Adams121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0159

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 114306

Reported Deaths: 5083
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook745213455
Lake7845270
DuPage7350347
Kane5947162
Will5279264
Winnebago200152
McHenry147569
St. Clair103573
Kankakee80843
Kendall73619
Rock Island63823
Champaign5807
Madison54457
Boone41016
Sangamon33727
DeKalb3343
Randolph2644
Jackson24210
McLean21513
Out of IL2051
Stephenson1942
Ogle1932
Macon18919
Peoria1888
Clinton17817
Union1437
LaSalle14013
Whiteside13410
Iroquois1314
Coles11912
Warren1130
Unassigned1100
Jefferson10116
Knox940
Monroe9311
Grundy882
McDonough837
Lee761
Tazewell693
Cass680
Henry670
Williamson572
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin431
Perry410
Pulaski410
Montgomery391
Vermilion371
Morgan341
Christian334
Jo Daviess310
Livingston312
Douglas260
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Washington180
Woodford182
Mason170
Menard170
Mercer160
Shelby161
Bureau151
Hancock150
Carroll142
Franklin120
Piatt120
Schuyler120
Crawford110
Fulton110
Bond101
Brown100
Clark100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
Terre Haute
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 70°
Robinson
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 80°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 81°
Rockville
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 72°
Casey
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 74°
Brazil
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Marshall
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Scattered Rain Today
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events