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.

Terre Haute
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 50°
Robinson
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 49°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
47° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 43°
Rockville
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 41°
Casey
Scattered Clouds
49° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 47°
Brazil
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 50°
Marshall
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 50°
Sunny and Cold
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Wabash Valley Health Center hosts ribbon cutting

Image

Pandemic hurts working poor families

Image

Uncovering a haunted legend: The Purple Head Bridge

Image

Golden Apple: Jodi Southard

Image

Friday: Mostly sunny and cool. High: 52°

Image

Loogootee volleyball semi-state preview

Image

Vin Lincoln-Sullivan preview

Image

IHSA Basketball moved to Spring

Image

Terre Haute Regional Hospital recognizes its night side nurses

Image

Election leaders are warning you about voter intimidation

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

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

Confirmed Cases: 400159

Reported Deaths: 9945
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1836495463
DuPage24240617
Lake21608518
Will19516434
Kane17738351
Winnebago10930185
St. Clair8173223
Madison7440157
McHenry6815121
Champaign646228
Peoria483077
Unassigned4770270
McLean432437
Sangamon432264
Rock Island426395
Kankakee358781
Macon344555
Kendall286930
Tazewell285358
LaSalle258467
DeKalb252443
Adams207123
Coles205840
Boone199825
Williamson197961
Clinton185631
Vermilion183011
Whiteside164630
Jackson161126
Knox138221
Randolph133815
Ogle13178
Effingham12664
Marion114723
Stephenson11299
Franklin105910
Grundy10477
Monroe100030
Morgan99925
Bureau95517
Jefferson93952
Henry8697
Christian86830
Macoupin84311
Union80225
McDonough79921
Lee7872
Douglas7429
Shelby73212
Fayette71924
Livingston70711
Woodford69215
Crawford6686
Montgomery65616
Logan6224
Saline6139
Fulton5901
Jo Daviess5479
Warren5419
Iroquois52719
Bond5259
Wayne51915
Jersey48221
Perry47816
Cass47011
Carroll45712
Moultrie4536
Pike4067
Johnson3850
Lawrence3558
Mason3425
Richland34218
Washington3322
Hancock3314
Clay33014
Clark31718
Greene31615
Cumberland3116
Mercer2996
White2794
De Witt2756
Jasper27510
Piatt2731
Pulaski2461
Wabash2436
Ford21115
Menard1881
Marshall1703
Edgar16511
Massac1612
Alexander1451
Hamilton1392
Henderson1320
Brown1220
Edwards1120
Gallatin1122
Scott1120
Putnam980
Schuyler981
Stark943
Calhoun660
Hardin560
Pope431
Out of IL10

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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

Confirmed Cases: 172730

Reported Deaths: 4260
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion26807796
Lake15074371
St. Joseph10092174
Elkhart9783146
Allen9123235
Hamilton6697120
Vanderburgh640572
Tippecanoe424616
Porter372351
Hendricks3532139
Monroe345038
Johnson3438132
Delaware326378
Clark318865
Vigo293042
Madison270398
LaPorte248867
Cass234426
Kosciusko219529
Warrick212166
Floyd193369
Howard176267
Wayne156933
Dubois155727
Marshall154930
Bartholomew153259
Grant141240
Henry140530
Boone134850
Hancock130244
Noble129335
Jackson125420
Dearborn109728
Lawrence104238
Morgan103040
Gibson98212
Clinton97816
Daviess96036
Shelby95737
Knox89210
LaGrange85115
Fayette84922
Harrison83524
DeKalb82413
Posey8058
Putnam80017
Jasper7395
Miami7205
Steuben7059
Montgomery66622
White65816
Adams6337
Greene60838
Scott57916
Decatur56239
Whitley5216
Ripley5178
Wabash5079
Wells50412
Huntington4985
Clay4927
Starke4929
Sullivan48114
Spencer4436
Randolph43911
Orange43625
Perry42114
Jefferson4165
Fulton4159
Washington4143
Jennings40213
Franklin39625
Jay3816
Pike37018
Carroll36413
Fountain3643
Tipton29423
Vermillion2911
Rush2734
Parke2724
Blackford2555
Newton24411
Owen2251
Martin2070
Pulaski1874
Crawford1691
Brown1523
Ohio1457
Union1280
Benton1160
Switzerland1070
Warren1021
Unassigned0236