Known locally as the Charlestown Powder Plant, the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant (INAAP) was formed by the combination of three former sites listed below.
Indiana Ordnance Works (IOW) Plant 1, a Smokeless Powder plant consisting (original construction) of 900 buildings on 6,000 acres, built by DuPont at a cost of $112,643,031. Aerial overview of the IOW Plant 1 facilities.
IOW Plant 2, a rocket propellant plant built on 8,300 acres northeast of, and adjacent to, IOW Plant 1.
Hoosier Ordnance Plant (HOP), a bag loading facility of (original construction) 451 buildings built by Goodyear occupying 4,929 acres southwest of, and adjacent to, IOW Plant 1. Original construction cost $27,815,661. Aerial overview of the HOP facilities.
A record of the properties acquired for creation of these plants is located at the Charlestown Library. A digital copy is available on-line thru Indiana Memories Digital Collection.
These installations were built as small, self-contained cities. Details of some of the features of the plants, as well as other information, is located in a special section. This information may apply to any of the original three facilities, or all of them.
These sites are in the immediate vicinity of Charlestown in Clark County and bounded on one side by the Ohio River and on the other by State Highway 62..
Construction began on IOW Plant 1 with 40 workers employed by DuPont (Contract W-ORD-458) on August 28, 1940; that number had grown to 13,400 by the end of 1940, and 27,154 by May of 1941. “A” line began production on April 21, 1941, followed by the other lines (B, D, D, E, F) in alphabetical order. Production started on “D” Line on October 8, 1941. Production employment averaged 9,442 in November of 1942, producing an average of 900,000 lbs/day of propellant working 24/7. WWII production ceased in September of 1945.
The impact of this facility on the local community can be seen from the population figures: he population of Clark County increased by 761 in the 50 years between 1890 and 1940. Between 1940 and 1950, it increased by 17,310. The population of Charlestown tripled between 1940 and 1941. The Army built temporary housing for some workers in Charlestown, and also built an on-site housing complex called River Ridge. INAAP was always a Government Owned, Contractor Operated (GOCO) facility. During WWII, plant management lived on base along with local military personnel. It later become strictly Military Family Housing with the exception of one home, which was occupied by the Contractor’s Director of Safety and Security.
Construction at IOW Plant 2 started in December 1944 and employed 17,585 construction workers as of June 1945. Production started in July 1945 and ceased in August 1945 when 15,238 production and construction workers were terminated after the production of 292,700 lbs. of rocket propellant. Most of the land which comprised IOW Plant 2 was sold by the US Government in the 1950s; a small portion was added to IOW Plant 1.
Design of the HOP was started by Shreve Anderson & Walker Construction on December 28, 1940. Construction of the HOP began on January 28, 1941 (WHMS Construction) and was completed August 29, 1942, with a peak construction employment of 15,412 workers. Production started in September of 1941 with all lines operational by the end of 1941. 7,562 production personnel were employed at peak employment. WWII production continued until VJ Day.
A Black Powder Manufacturing Plant was built on part of the old IOW Plant 2. Initial funding for facility design (Project 5732084) was appropriated in 1972 to the Army Corps of Engineers and equipment design (Project 5742084) was funded to the operating contractor at the time, ICI Americas, in 1973. Construction continued until the start of plant proveout in 1980. This was an automated production facility utilizing the “Norwegian Process” for manufacture. At the completion of proveout, one batch of black powder was produced and shipped for testing. The plant was never operated again and later excessed. It is now part of Charlestown State Park. Picture below
Photos of all former Commanders are now available: INAAP Commanders
If you are feeling ambitious, you can read the history of INAAP as prepared as part of the US Army Material Command Historic Context Series, Report of Investigations Number 3A. It is very comprehensive at 158 pages and includes a lot of information. Similar documents are available at that site for other AAPs.
An archeological survey report on 920 acres was conducted in 2002. You can read the report here. The images are not included but are available with the report at the Charlestown Library.
The final task of the final operating contractor (ICI Americas Inc) was to attract companies to use the facilities for commercial purposes with the goal of transferring an industrial park with ongoing revenue to the local community. Originally operated as Facility I, the plant was renamed the River Ridge Commerce Center after transfer to the Clark County Reuse Authority.