Peter's Cartridge Company - Abandoned by Sherman Cahal

Peter’s Cartridge Company

Peter’s Cartridge Company is a former smokeless ordnance and shot shell ammunition factory in Kings Mill, Ohio.


The beginnings of Peter’s Cartridge Company began during the American Civil War, when J.W. King cased bullets and cannonballs for the Union Army.5

In 1877,1 2 J.W. King and his nephew, Ahimaaz King, constructed a powder mill along the Little Miami River titled The Great Western Powder Company.4a The 71-acre complex was powered by a hydroelectric power station and was located on the site of a former grist mill. The first batches or ordnance was produced in part because of a large surplus of mortar powder left over from the Civil War that the government had stored away.4a King purchased 832,000 pounds at a steep discount and added saltpeter to the mix that was then marketed for rifles.

On July 15, 1890, a train car collided with two load cars that were packed with 800 kegs of gun powder along the Little Miami Railroad, which caused an explosion that could be heard six miles away.2 4a 5 In a chain reaction, an additional 800 kegs of powder exploded. Eleven employees were killed instantly, with others dying later at a hospital. Many of the buildings on the site, nothing more than timber-framed structures, were destroyed.

The company expanded north across Grandin Road during World War I with temporary wood-framed structures due to increased demand for ammunition.2 After the war, the buildings were demolished. In 1916, much of the plant was rebuilt with reinforced concrete and any remaining wood-framed buildings were torn down. The project included the construction of a large smokestack and shot tower, where shot balls were formed by free-falling molten lead into cool water.5

Decline and Closure

In 1934, the Remington Arms Company purchased Peter’s Cartridge and the manufacture of smokeless powder continued until the near end of World War II in 1944.1 2 4b The plant was then reused by Columbia Records division of RCA, who mixed plastic materials and manufactured phonograph record disks from 1944 to 19482/1953.5 During the 1950’s, Seagrams Distillers used the property as a bonded warehouse, followed by a small cabinet company that used a portion of the site in the 1970’s.

The buildings were purchased by the Landmark Renaissance Corporation in 1979 and the facility 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, the facility was added to the National Register of Historic Places.


In 1987, as part of an environmental assessment for the center, 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 1987. This led to the detection of lead at .52 milligrams per liter (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, ground water and fish tissue.2 Elevated lead levels were discovered along the Little Miami River, a National Wild and Scenic River that contains 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 Hamilton Township using a Clean Ohio grant.1 It could only be used as green space under the terms of the grant.

On July 16, 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency outlined a $5 million plan to clean the grounds of the factory through the federal Superfund program.1 The plan called for the removal of 32,000 cubic yards of soil and sediment from the site which would then 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, 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 It became a wholly-owned subsidiary of DuPont.

In May 2014, Bloomfield / Schon + Partners proposed a $20 million to $30 million conversion of the Peter’s Cartridge factory into an apartment complex.5 The Walnut Hills, Cincinnati-based developers stated that the 100 loft-style units could be completed within a three-year timetable



  1. I live not far from this place and walk around it pretty often. It is a very interesting place with a very diverse history and remnants of a seperate building just across the street.

  2. Very cool place, I love the history. I am the 4th generation owner of a house in kings mills. My friends and I spent a good deal of time exploring both sides of the river, mainly the kings powder company side. I have a pretty good collection of items from the kings powder company and the peters cartridge company. If you would like to see the items or have some items to show off or even sale, shoot me an email at

  3. Don’t know how I got here but it brings back many memories. Dad grew up in Kings and my Grandfather owned and ran a small grocery store on Columbia Rd at one point in time. As kids we would ride our bikes to Kings from Mason, go down to the river and explore some of the old roads and buildings we could get into. I remember and old abandoned iron bridge up stream (??) of an old dam. Grandpa would take me fishing around there and was always fascinated by the big old buildings. Mom taught school in Kings for thirty some years. Haven’t been back for years.

  4. I am an historian, and in the summer of 2015 I visited the site to take photos for an article I am doing on American shot towers. It was interesting to note that, despite being given the designation of a Superfund site, everywhere I looked the soil was being overturned. This is a BAD idea. I guess the timing of a corporation offering to develop it (after the US Government picks up the tab to clean it) is as American as apple pie, and the price of the “luxury apartments” ($30 million/100= $300,000) is about right, but who would want to live there? The land is contaminated, the river beside it is contaminated, even the drinking wells are contaminated. BUT they could name it “Haunted Heights,” and we could all watch as Peters’ former workers–killed by “blasts from the past,” reach out from the grave for the next generation of victims.

    • Good point, Ralph. Filth, corruption and deadly pollution produced by greedy corporations in their never-ending quest for profit, always get cleaned up on taxpayer’s dimes. Dupont, kicking and screaming, prolly litigated their measly contribution to death.

      In today’s America, populated by mental-midgets, condos and townhouses built on pollution will be snapped up likety-split as long as a smarmy facade makes them look expensive. It’s all in how things “look” today, not in what they are.

      Decades from now when these “homeowners” start croaking of horrible tumors, cancers, and blood diseases, since ObamaCare will just let them die off, MedicAid, another taxpayer scam, will help them in their misery. BOHICA.

  5. My parents grew up not far from Kings Mills. They felt the earth shake, they knew people who worked there, many memories….

  6. I just want to know if we can go in here and not get in trouble by the law or sonething. My question is, is it like closed off aka can we go in it?

  7. Found it out driving with friends in late 70’s,early 80’s.began going at night,exploring the plant,climbed the shot tower,sat on the roof & got a birdseye view,explored rooms,bldgs,place had a strange vibe & we had a few wierd occurrences that added 2 the mystery of the place.i feel that some do not understand the importance of these bldgs as they helped supply troops with ammo which kept us free from nazi germany & other threats america faced!it should have been restored as a museum not made in2 condos!another historic site will b commercialized & our history lost!the spirits of people who helped win the war wonder here!

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