The Fairmount Web Spot

History of Fairmount

Fairmount 1917.

This is Fairmount and environs in 1917

Except for the railroads (only one remains), the town is basically the same as it is now.

The "SH №1" (Schoolhouse #1) north of town would in time become the motorcycle shop (recently restored) frequently visited by James Dean, who lived nearby as a teenager.

Starting in 1830, the area around Fairmount was settled largely by Quakers and Wesleyans, and a village appeared along a sluggish creek. The town's first name was rather silly, but it got a better one when it was formally laid out in 1850 and named for Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. The town was formally incorporated in 1870.

The Naming of A Town.

A large deposit of natural gas was found in 1887. For the next fifteen years, Fairmount was a center of the glass industry. During that wondrous prosperity the town assumed its present boundaries and the nuclei of a future Fairmount High School were built. The complacency that prosperity breeds led to terrible waste, though, and by 1900 the gas was all used up.

The Gas Boom.

Shortly afterward the automobile industry set up factories in the nearby large cities, and Fairmount became a bedroom town, restoring some of its lost prosperity. In the 1940's, James Dean lived with his uncle and family at a farm north of Fairmount. He attended Fairmount High School until he graduated in 1949. When James Dean was killed in 1955, he was brought back to Fairmount and buried in Park Cemetery.

During the great prosperity of the 1960's, Fairmount enjoyed a time of reconstruction. The town got a new town hall, water works, post office, department store and elementary school. At the end of the 1960's the Fairmount school district merged with a neighboring one, and for the new Madison-Grant district a new high school was built.

As a town dependent on both agriculture and industry, Fairmount was hit very hard by the recession of 1980-1982. That recession brought with it the permanent loss of factory jobs and the failure of many farms. Yet the town managed to spring back later in the decade.

Although affected by the fortunes of nearby cities — especially Marion and its decaying industrial base — and a steady loss of population, Fairmount is still a fairly prosperous town that perseveres and works towards a better future. Often the work and perseverance pays off, as with the town's success in keeping its BMV license branch in October 2005, and with the remodeling of two adjacent buildings into the new Fairmount Public Library in 2008.

travelogue 1941

I bought at a book sale the book Indiana: A Guide to the Hoosier State, compiled by the Writers' Project of the Works Projects Administration and published by Oxford University Press in 1941. This is a travelogue of the state in three parts: A short history; descriptions of some of the bigger cities, including Muncie (one page); and guides to twenty tour routes. One tour goes south down State Road 9 from Marion.

Left on State 26 is FAIRMOUNT, 1 m[ile]. (852 [ft] alt., 2,382 pop.), and the wesleyan camp meeting grounds, site of State and National conferences of the Methodist church. A large cannery is the principal industry of Fairmount.

Copyright © 2013 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Last updated 29 September 2013.