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Oak Forest Historical Places and Oak Forest Historical Sites and Oak Forest History

Dupont Powder Factory

Dupont Powder Factory April 26, 2015 at 10:30pm The first Rock Island train station to open southwest of Blue Island was located in Tinley Park. What was the next station to open between Blue Island and Tinley ? Midlothian ? Oak Forest ? Nope it was the Dupont Station located about .6 of a mile northeast of the current day Oak Forest Station. Neither Midlothian nor Oak Forest had stations or scheduled stops in the 1890's. The Oak Forest and Midlothian stops were milk stops with no scheduled stops, the trains had to be flagged down to load goods. The Oak Forest stop was at 166th and Central in the midst of the Coopers Grove of Oak trees. Midlothian was first called Rexford Crossing and was a milk stop where the Rock Island crossed Crawford Avenue. This stop also served the limestone quarry owned by William Schwartz of Blue Island where the Secretary of State Midlothian DMV is now situated on Pulaski between 145th and 144th. Opening in 1894, the DuPont Farm and Ammunition Storage facility had its own track spur off of the Rock Island in between the Rexford Crossing and Oak Forest whistle stops as well as a train station and scheduled trains. The spur from the Rock Island led into the plant 1,000 feet east of the Dupont station. Here is how that track spur from the Rock Island main line, which cut through a hill side, looks today (Looking toward the tracks):

The DuPont station served the Dupont powder factory, which made smokeless gun powder, as both a passenger drop off and pick up location for plant workers, also providing a means to distribute the products they were manufacturing. Most workers rode on a special 1 coach train from Blue Island to the plant in the morning, and rode back on a 6PM milk train back to Blue Island. Typically 2- 5 million pounds of gun powder was stored at the site in cans ranging from 1/2 pound to 50 pounds, stored in 3 magazine buildings. The largest of the magazines was, at that time, the largest in the world. The first batch of smokeless powder cartridges ever made by machine was made at Dupont. The plant and the train station disappeared in 1906 when the plant was destoyed by explosions in the magazines that stored the powder. The shock waves from the explosions were so great that windows of the Midlothian Country Club on 143rd Street west of Cicero were shattered, according to a report on November 8, 1906 in the Charlotte News. So following the spur line into the grove what can we see ? Remnants of foundations from the smaller magazines appear to still be in place as large stones can be seen imbedded in the ground in straight lines with right angle turns:

And bricks from the buildings or paths/floors in the factory:

Here is how the area looked in 1939, 33 years after the Dupont Plant was destroyed, the site is the southwestern most clearing in the trees with the clearing starting narrow near the tracks (this was the start of the spur line) and getting wider as it moves southwest, which is where the factory and magazines were located. First the general area, note the Oak Forest Infirmary at the bottom:

And then a closeup of the Dupont area:



Historical places near Oak Forest, Illinois and Oak Forest history discussion.

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