Peter’s Cartridge Company is a closed smokeless ordnance and shotshell ammunition factory in Kings Mill, Ohio. Located along the Little Miami River, the 71-acre Peters Cartridge factory began production of artillery in 1887, ending in 1944.


History

During the American Civil War, J.W. King cased bullets and cannonballs for the Union Army. 5 In 1877,1 2 King and his nephew, Ahimaaz King, erected The Great Western Powder Company, a powder mill along the Little Miami River. 4a The 71-acre complex, on the site of a former grist mill, was powered by a hydroelectric power station.

The first batches of ordnance were derived from a large surplus of mortar powder left over from the Civil War that the government had surplused. 4a King purchased 832,000 pounds at a steep discount and added saltpetre to the mix and marketed the gunpowder for rifles.

On July 15, 1890, a train car collided with two load cars that were packed with 800 kegs of gunpowder along the Little Miami Railroad, which caused an explosion that could be heard six miles away. 2 4a 5 An additional 800 barrels of powder exploded in a chain reaction. Eleven employees were killed instantly, while others died later at a hospital. Many of the buildings on the site, mostly timber-framed structures, were destroyed.

During World War I, then-named Peter’s Cartridge expanded north across Grandin Road during World War I with temporary wood-framed structures due to increased demand for ammunition. 2 The buildings were demolished after the war. In 1916, much of the plant was rebuilt with reinforced concrete, which included the construction of a giant smokestack and shot tower, where free-falling molten lead formed shot balls into cold water. 5 Any remaining wood-framed buildings were torn down.

Decline

In 1934, the Remington Arms Company purchased Peter’s Cartridge, and the manufacture of smokeless powder continued until 1944. 1 2 4b The facility was then reused by the Columbia Records division of RCA, where plastic materials were mixed to manufacture phonograph record disks from 1944 to 1948 2/1953. 5 During the 1950’s, Seagrams Distillers used a portion of the property as a bonded warehouse, followed by a small cabinet company that reused a building in the 1970’s.

The Landmark Renaissance Corporation purchased Peter’s Cartridge complex in 1979, and it was renamed the Kings Mills Technical Center. 2 LensCrafters leased a part of the property for the manufacture of eyeglass lenses and frames from January 1987 to December 1991, while other smaller companies owned or leased other buildings on the site.

On October 10, 1985, Peter’s Cartridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Cleanup

In 1987, as part of an environmental assessment for the centre, lead contamination was discovered in the soil at depths from one to 12 feet. 2 Fill materials including boiler ash and slag were found buried in layers from seven to 12 feet. As a result, monitoring wells were installed throughout the property in December, which led to the detection of lead at .52 milligrams per litre (mg/l), well above the maximum contaminant level of .015 mg/l. The grounds were asphalted over in 1993 to prevent direct contact with the lead-contaminated soil.

The Ohio EPA conducted an expanded site inspection in May 1999 that involved collecting sediment, groundwater, and fish tissue. 2 Elevated lead levels were discovered along the Little Miami River, a National Wild and Scenic River that contained a fishery and several municipal drinking water wells.

In 2007, 56 acres of the property, including a portion of the Little Miami Bike Trail, was purchased by the township using a Clean Ohio grant. 1 Under the terms of the award, the part acquired could only be used for recreational purposes due to soil contamination.

The Environmental Protection Agency outlined a $5 million plan to clean the grounds of the factory through the federal Superfund program in July 2009. 1 The proposal called for the removal of 32,000 cubic yards of soil and sediment from the site which would be replaced by clean fill. The contaminated soil would then be placed on an impermeable synthetic liner on a three-acre site on a flat section of the property and topped with clean dirt and vegetation. Funding for the cleanup was derived from DuPont, 1 who purchased 60% of Remington stock in 1933 before fully acquiring the company in 1980. 3

In May 2014, Bloomfield / Schon + Partners proposed a $20 million to $30 million conversion of Peter’s Cartridge factory into a 100-unit apartment complex. 5

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