50 years ago: Explosion ripped through Richmond, killing 41

Posted at 6:13 AM, Apr 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-06 20:47:15-04

RICHMOND, Ind. -- In the early afternoon hours of April 6, 1968, the city of Richmond, Indiana was forever changed.

An explosion rocked the downtown area, killing 41 and injuring more than 100. Dozens of buildings were damaged or destroyed.

Witnesses recall seeing a mushroom cloud rising from the city describing the aftermath as a war zone. They said cars were piled on top of one another and rubble was piled as tall as the traffic signals.

"It seemed so hopeless, there was so much damage," recalled one witness. "There was so much fire. There were so many fatalities."

The blast was sparked by a leaking natural gas transmission line beneath the Marting Arms sporting goods store at E. Main and 6th streets.

A landscaped memorial was installed along Main St. after the explosion. However, it was removed in the mid '90s as part of a downtown revitalization project in Richmond.

A new monument was unveiled Friday to remember the victims and honor those who rebuilt Richmond after the explosions.

The three-by-six stone monument was dedicated during a ceremony that included a moment of silence at 1:47 p.m., the exact time the explosions started.

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