Mexican farmer Dioniso Pulido was readying his fields for spring when he heard a thundering noise in his cornfield on February 20, 1943. Right before his very eyes, a fissure 150 feet in length appeared in the earth of his cornfield and his nose detected the smell of rotten eggs. Then a cone started to form out of the fissure, growing to a couple of metres high and spouting smoke. By the following day, the hill had grown to 30 feet and the hole at the top was hurling out rocks. Within a week, the mountain was five stories high, still spouting lava. Mini eruptions punctuated the formation of the cone. Within a year, the mountain reached 336 metres high. It had experienced a major eruption, burying the nearby towns of Paricutin and San Juan Parangaricutiro. It was now 424 metres high, visible from quite a distance. The volcano was named Paricutin after one of the towns it buried. Twentieth Century Fox made a film about the volcano called "Captain from Castile" which premiered in 1947. But it wasn't finished its business: in 1949, the locals experienced its worst eruption yet, as lava covered 12 square miles and ashes reached as far as Mexico City, 200 kilometres away. Almost 1000 Mexicans perished. In 1952, almost as suddenly as it became active, the volcano lay dormant; it is considered extinct now, never to erupt again. Paricutin is one of only a few volcanoes whose birth was witnessed by humans. It is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Postcard of Paricutin circa 1940's courtesy http://ecx.images-amazon.com.