The Hotel Pathfinder explosion occurred 36 years ago, on January 10, 1976. Last year I added some information about that tragic day in Fremont (Nebraska) history. This past year I acquired my grandparents’ collection of photos taken that day which I had mentioned in the 2011 post. I have no more text to add from last year but I think the pictures speak for themselves. They certainly do to me.

I don’t know which of my grandparents took these pictures, or why they were downtown that day. I believe I see my grandfather’s green pick-up in the photo of glass on the sidewalk and people’s feet. He worked at the lumberyard downtown so he might have been working that Saturday morning and drove over after the explosion, or he may have driven in from elsewhere as the event was felt almost all over Fremont.

The morning of January 10, 1976, Fremont, Nebraska:

About Chad Leigh Kluck

Chad Leigh Kluck
Originally from Nebraska, I am a history and railroad enthusiast currently living near Saint Paul, Minnesota. I enjoy trains, photography, and nostalgic memories, as well as the history of transportation, agriculture, eateries, breweries, and railroad towns. More...

13 Comments

  1. Will Stanley
    Posted January 26, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Hi, the picture you have labelled as windows blown out of building (5th and Broad?) was actually the old Field(?) Department Store at 6th and Broad, across from the Pathfinder. At the time of the explosion, the building was housing the Air Force and Navy Recruiters in the front (facing 6th Street) and the Army Recruiter was around on the Broad St side.

    I was 18 at the time of the explosion and remember it vividly to this day. I was actually in Brown Drug, where the explosion came up through, the day before the explosion.

    • Posted January 27, 2012 at 12:46 am | Permalink

      Will, thanks for the correction. I was trying to judge by the smoke and ornamentation around the windows. I thought it was the row of buildings south of the Opera House but wasn’t sure. I’m glad you were able to help out with the location.

      It’s a scary feeling knowing you were one of the last people to occupy a space before a tragedy struck. I appreciate your comment. Take care.

  2. Larry Fiehn
    Posted January 26, 2014 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    From a native Fremont, thanks for sharing these.

  3. Rita Stanley
    Posted January 26, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Who were your grandparents?

  4. Posted January 26, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Rita, my grandparents were Ed and Myra Parr.

  5. Juli Dailey
    Posted January 26, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting the pictures. I remember that day well. Two of my brothers were climbing up the ladders to help bring people out.

  6. scott sorensen
    Posted January 27, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    My dad had his front teeth broken by falling
    Parts at peterson machine at 4th and broad

  7. Caroline "Christensen" Hargrove
    Posted November 4, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Remember that day, had just got in the car to take my Grandma downtown to get her hair done. Thought my car had backfired. Before turning on to Broad, we had to wait for firetrucks, it looked like a fire in the middle of 6th & Broad intersection, so went down 7th to Main then down and parked between 5th & 6th on the West side. We couldn’t figure out what happened as was like about every other window on both sides of the street had been vandalized. Same going down 6th to Woolworths. We knew people who worked there and they told us what had happened. Grandma bought what she went for, got back as far as the alley and she turned white as a sheet, thought she was going to faint. Asked her what was wrong and she says “I wonder if Suzie was working” (will always remember her words). Suzie was also a grand-daughter, a younger one who just had a baby in Nov or Dec.She worked there don’t recall who for. Called her home from Norma’s where she got her hair done, her brother Steve answered the phone. He was baby sitting Julie till Suzie got back from the Pathfinder where she worked. She was only going to be there an hour or two at most and she was making some photo copies for her Dad for the Church. She was on what they called the mezzanine level when it happened. Her husband Steve was there with the Nat’l Guard and they relieved him of duty when they found out. They found her in the basement crushed from the shoulders down. A friend of theirs identified her, so none of the family had to see her. She was a sweet gal and everyone liked her.
    Another cousin, her young daughter, a friend and I had just been in the dining/coffee shop area the evening before for coffee and chat. A friend of hers and mine drove a gas tanker that took gas to farmers, found out he had just went through that intersection right before the hotel exploded.
    Little Julie grew up never knowing her mother.

    • Barb Smith Christiansen
      Posted March 17, 2015 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      I knew Suzie…she worked for an audit/ acctng firm. I was a teller at Equitable at the time & I waited on Suzie all the time, as she brought over the businesses deposits. I would tease her about working so much when pregnant. She would laugh & assure me… Once her baby was born, she’d take time off of work. I was certain she was at home that Saturday with her baby girl……I was shocked to hear about her death! I attended her funeral… & to this day, I miss her. We were friends through our jobs & I believe we’d still be friends! She was a beautiful person! I miss you Suzie!!!!! God Bless your family!

  8. Tammy York
    Posted March 17, 2015 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    I was 6 years old at the time and we lived in Mobile City pretty far from town (out by the Fremont Lakes) my dad was on duty with the Fremont Police Dept. And when I was outside playing I heard the explosion thinking 2 semis wrecked on the highway or the Grain Bins by the lakes exploded. I Thank God that on that terrible day my Dad was safe. That was a scary and sad day for Fremont Ne.

  9. K. Cone
    Posted March 25, 2015 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    My grandfather was the fire chief at the time of this tragedy! It was a very tough time for everyone involved and so many were lost.
    My husbands aunt was also in the explosion and survived thankfully!
    It will be a day everyone from Fremont will remember forever!

  10. Corey
    Posted August 29, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    My grandmother bliven worked in Vienna bakery at that time. That building was destroyed and moved down main street. You font happen to have any pictures of Vienna bakery? This happened 2 years before I was born. But worked at Vienna for a couple of years when I was a teenager. Thanks for the pics . corey

    • Posted September 10, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the info, Corey. I do believe I have seen pictures of the bakery with the front window smashed and donuts displayed. I’m sure it is a Tribune picture. I’m sorry it took a while for me to respond but I was seeing what I could find. I don’t have anything of my own to send you, but I can send you copies of some articles I have. I’ll be following up by email. Take care.

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