A Cannelton History

Thomas J. De La Hunt, Cannelton historian states the City of Cannelton may be said to owe its existence to General Seth Hunt of Walpole, NH, who passing up the Ohio River in the summer of 1835, was attracted by the high grade of semi-cannel coal found in the hills skirting the Ohio River. Later, General Hunt was joined by James C. Hobart of Boston, and on the 23rd day of December, 1837, the American Cannel Coal Company was incorporated by an act of the legislature. Its object was to mine coal at "Coal Haven" and elsewhere , as well as to carry on manufacturing and mercantile enterprises of other descriptions.

A fire swept away most of the hamlet in 1839 and all workmen and their families, except five families, moved away leaving Coal Haven practically defunct.

In 1840, F. Y. Carlile came from Memphis, TN to resume mining and the revised settlement was named "Cannelburg." The town, however, was universally called "Cannelton" and was resurveyed in 1844 by Frederick Conner. The name it now bears was formally adopted. During the forties, the Hon. Hamilton Smith , native of Durham Strafford County, NH, came into prominence in the affairs of the Coal Company. Smith is a name with which Cannelton's history might never have been recorded as it stands. Through his liberal views and good management, Cannelton's rapid progress during this period can be traced.

For the next quarter century, the little town took quite a manufacturing boom and many companies were formed to make various products.

Cotton Mill

The Cotton Mill was built in 1849 - 1851 and was once the largest industrial building in Indiana. It was made of native sandstone and faced the Ohio River with a 280 foot frontage, 60 foot deep and five stories high, and wall three feet thick, but hollow. On either side of the front entrance are twin towers which are 100 feet high. One contained a bell that called employees to work. The building cost $80,000.00 when it was built. Over $175,000.00 worth of machinery was shipped from England to be used there. The mill was financed by southern land owners and local investors. It was patterned after a mill in Lowell, MA. Many young women were brought from England to work in the mill since they were experienced.

The location was perfect for transportation of the cotton from southern plantations, and other needed supplies like the supply of soft bituminous coal suitable for the boilers and steam driven machinery, and the wooded hills for timber.

The mill manufactured Union Army uniforms for the Civil War and war materials during both World Wars.

The mill operated continuously from 1851 - 1954. Since that date, Mid-West Safe Company used the weave shop until new facilities were built east of town, and also was used by Hydro Tex Corporation of Chicago for a short time.

Today the Indiana Cotton Mill is included in the registry of Historic American Engineering Records, and it has been placed in the National Register of Historic Places on August 23, 1975, and the Indiana Historic Landmark Foundation.