Original Dupont Lodge Destroyed

April 6, 1940 – The original Dupot Lodge at Cumberland Falls State Park was destroyed 82 years ago today on April 6, 1940.  The fire, which started at about 2:30 p.m. was not discovered for more than half an hour and had spread too far to stop in the space between the second floor and the ceiling of the main lobby.  The log and stone structure was a total loss.

The Lexington Herald ran a photo of the smoldering remains of the DuPont Lodge on its front page on Saturday, April 6, 1940.
A news report of the fire in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer on Sunday, April 7, 1940, on page 19.

Construction started on the old lodge in 1934 and was funded by the National Parks Service.  The project was first begun by the Junior Civilian Conservation Corps, who used the area as their camp since 1933.  The completed hotel boasted 26 rooms and a large dining room when it was completed in 1937 at a cost of more than $63,000.  Park Manager Mark Hardin told The Lexington Herald that only a few of the lodge’s hand-crafted furnishings were saved from the blaze.

The Lodge, named in honor of Thomas Coleman du Pont, was reconstructed in 1941 and the new Dupont Lodge includes 51 rooms, several large fireplaces, and a restaurant.  The wooden beams in the new lodge, made of hemlock and pine, were harvested from the surrounding woods.

The exact cause of the fire was never learned but was believed to come from a faulty chimney flue.

Dupont Lodge was named for Delaware Senator and Louisville native Thomas Coleman du Pont who tried to buy the area around Cumberland Falls to preserve the site. His wife, Alice Elise du Pont, was able to purchase the area after his death in 1930 and donated the area to the state in his honor.

© 2022 Stephen D. Bowling


About sdbowling

Director of the Breathitt County Public Library and Heritage Center in Jackson, Kentucky.
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