Panoramic photographs depicting various aspects of the World War One-era Old Hickory Gunpowder plant.Browse all items
This small collection of large-format photographs highlights various aspects of the World War One-era Old Hickory Gunpowder plant. DuPont built and operated the plant, under contract for the United States government, to manufacture smokeless gunpowder for the Allied war effort.
The Old Hickory Gunpowder plant was located at a bend in the Cumberland River near Nashville, Tennessee, and was 93% completed by the time of the Armistice of November 11th, 1918. The War Department of the Federal government paid all construction costs, which amounted to approximately $83,000,000, and DuPont received $1 in compensation. The Old Hickory Gunpowder plant was the largest munitions plant in the world at the time of operation, 1918-1919, occupying some 4,700 acres and producing half a million pounds of powder a day.
DuPont recruited tens of thousands of domestic and international workers in order to build and operate the Old Hickory Gunpowder plant. Many of these workers lived on-site in temporary and permanent housing, which was segregated according to race and gender. In addition, DuPont constructed numerous community facilities for workers, many of which were segregated according to race, including schools, churches, commissary stores, mess halls, banks, theatres, hotels, YMCAs, and a hospital.
DuPont ceased production at the Old Hickory Gunpowder at the beginning of 1919. The Nashville Industrial Corporation acquired the plant in 1920 for around $3,500,000; a deal which saw Ernest C. Morse, director of sales for the War Department, "indicted by a grand jury for fraud." In 1923 The Nashville Industrial Corporation sold the plant back to DuPont who would use it to manufacture rayon and cellophane. DuPont ceased the production of rayon in 1961 and the production of cellophane in 1964 after decades of success.