The story of a forgotten America.

Peter’s Cartridge Company

Peter’s Cartridge Company is a closed smokeless ordnance and shotshell ammunition factory in Kings Mill, Ohio. The 71-acre site produced artillery between 1887 and 1944.


During the American Civil War, J.W. King cased bullets and cannonballs for the Union Army. 5 Using knowledge gained during the war, King and his nephew, Ahimaaz King, formed the Great Western Powder Company on the site of an old grist mill along the Little Miami River 4a in 1877. 1 2 King purchased 832,000 pounds of surplus mortar powder left over from the Civil War at a steep discount from the government and added saltpeter to the mix and marketed the gunpowder for rifles. 4a

A train car collided with two cars that were packed with 800 kegs of gunpowder along the Little Miami Railroad on July 15, 1890, 2 4a 5 and the ensuing explosion could be heard six miles away. 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 were destroyed.

Then-named Peter’s Cartridge expanded north across Grandin Road during World War I with temporary wood-framed structures because of increased demand for ammunition. 2 In 1916, much of the facility 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.

The Remington Arms Company acquired Peter’s Cartridge in 1934, who continued to produce smokeless powder at King’s Mill until 1944. 1 2 4b The facility was then reused by the Columbia Records Division of RCA to manufacture plastic phonograph record disks from 1944 to 1948 2/1953. 5 During the 1950s, Seagrams Distillers used a portion of the property as a bonded warehouse; another building was reused by a small cabinet company in the 1970s.

The Landmark Renaissance Corporation purchased Peter’s Cartridge complex in 1979, which was renamed Kings Mills Technical Center. 2 The most notable tenant in the complex was LensCrafters, who used a building to produce eyeglass lenses and frames between January 1987 to December 1991.

Peter’s Cartridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in October 1985.


Led contamination, boiler ash, and slag were discovered in the soil at Peter’s Cartridge during an environmental assessment in 1987. 2 Monitoring wells were installed throughout the property in December which led to the asphalt paving of the grounds to prevent direct contact with the lead-contaminated soil in 1993. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted an expanded site inspection that involved collecting sediment, groundwater, and fish tissue in May 1999, leading to the discovery of elevated lead levels in fish in Little Miami River, a National Wild and Scenic River. 2

Fifty-six acres of Peter’s Cartridge, including a portion of the Little Miami Bike Trail, was purchased by the township using a Clean Ohio grant in 2007. 1 In July 2009, the state EPA outlined a $5 million plan to remediate past contamination and pollution on the site, which called for the removal of 32,000 cubic yards of soil and sediment. Funding would be sourced from DuPont, who had purchased 60% of Remington stock in 1933 before fully acquiring the company in 1980. 3

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



  1. Kiesewetter, Sue. “Cleanup plan meeting today.” Cincinnati Enquirer 15 July 2009. 16 July 2009 Article.
  2. “NPL Site Narrative for Peters Cartridge Factory.” United States Environmental Protection Agency 30 April 2003. 16 July 2009 Article.
  3. Standler, Ronald B. “Shotshell Cartridge History.” 16 June 2006. 16 July 2009 Article.
  4. Simmons, George. King’s Powder Mills. Bellbrook: G and B Simmons, 2008.
    4a. p. 22
    4b. p. 40-43.
  5. McLaughlin, Sheila. “Ammo factory near bike path could become lofts.” Enquirer [Cincinnati] 16 May 2014: n. pag. Print.


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The name of the company was Peters, not Peter’s. The name of the founder was Gershom Moore Peters. There is not an apostrophe in his last name.

Update, 2022. The building is now a brewery (Cartridge Brewing) and apartment complex. Soil remediation was carried out in 2015 and plans for redevelopment soon followed. Of note, Columbia records was not, and never has been, a division of RCA.

Does anyone collect memorabilia from this company. I have an old wood crate that held 12 gage shot gun cartriges. It’s about the size of a milk crate. I will donate to museum.

I don’t know if it’s worth anything but I have a calander in excellent condition from peters cartridge company. It’s dated 1915

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!

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?

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.

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.

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

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.

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