Lammot du Pont established the Repauno Chemical Company in 1880 after failing to convince his uncle, Henry du Pont, to enter the dynamite business. Located on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, Repauno was founded on Lammot’s belief that dynamite would replace traditional blasting powder for use in building railroads, highways and other major construction projects nationwide. But Henry du Pont’s fears about the dangers of the new chemical compound were also well founded. In 1884 Lammot and several other Repauno workers died in an explosion at Repauno.
DuPont took over controlling interest in Repauno after Lammot’s death, and stayed at the forefront of the chemical industry due in part to efforts carried out there. Chemists working at Repauno’s Eastern Laboratory, established in 1902, developed new processes for manufacturing trinitrotoluene (TNT) and other explosives. By the 1920s, Repauno had become the world’s largest producer of dynamite. During the next two decades, the plant diversified and military explosives were only 25 percent of total production by World War II. With expanded chemical facilities, Repauno began to produce dimethyl terephthalate (DMT), a chemical intermediate used in manufacture of Dacron and DuPont products.
The Eastern Dynamite Company was a holding company created jointly in 1895 by DuPont and the Laflin & Rand Powder Company to protect their respective interests in the flourishing dynamite industry. After Alfred Nobel invented dynamite in 1866, DuPont's conservative head, Henry du Pont, had resisted entering the new business. However, Henry's progressive nephew Lammot expressed a keen interest, and in 1880, with the assistance of Laflin & Rand, Lammot formed the Repauno Chemical Company to produce and sell dynamite. This joint venture proved extremely successful, and two years later Lammot expanded operations to Cleveland to supply the booming western dynamite market. Four years after Lammot's death in an accidental explosion in 1884, a young coal-mining executive, J. Amory Haskell, was elected president of Repauno.
Determined to enlarge and consolidate Repauno's extensive holdings, Haskell acquired the Atlantic Dynamite Company, which held Nobel's American patents. In 1895 he established the Eastern Dynamite Company, which incorporated Atlantic Dynamite as a wholly owned subsidiary. In 1902 DuPont purchased Laflin & Rand's interest in Eastern, thereby assuming control over 72 percent of the nationwide dynamite industry. Concerned about possible federal antitrust action, DuPont began dissolving all of Eastern's holdings into its own operations; however, an antitrust suit soon thwarted DuPont's plan. In 1911 a Federal court ruled DuPont in violation of antitrust laws, and the following year ordered the complete dissolution of Eastern as part of a remedy. DuPont's explosives businesses were split off into two newly created, separate firms, the Atlas Powder Company and the Hercules Powder Company.