INAAP: Indiana Army Ammunition Plant
Charlestown, IN

Intro

The Story of a Ten-Thousand Acre Bomb

Fences sometimes feel more like things to keep the history inside, rather than historians out. Past the dead-end back-Indiana-road, the prodigal son of the military-industrial complex sleeps under a growing, moving blanket of foliage and fog.

We had come in under the dead high-tension lines, just in time to watch this abandoned slice of 1941 wake up as twilight burned away. The smoky blue-grey lifted from the tips of evergreens, sending ricochets of razor-sharp streaks of yellow and orange through ten thousand acres of dusty windows.

The largest abandonment in North America.

This is the real reason I slept in the top of the power plant that summer night; not for the storm, but for the sunrise. Almost everything visible here is abandoned.
This is the real reason I slept in the top of the power plant that summer night; not for the storm, but for the sunrise. Almost everything visible here is abandoned.

Concrete Stripes in Eagles’ Eyes

Solvent pumping buildings, designed to explode upwards rather than outwards in an emergency, are forgotten near the milkweed.
Solvent pumping buildings, designed to explode upwards rather than outwards in an emergency, are forgotten near the milkweed.

Dew-soaked boots made good time, trooping the overgrown production line avenues and the rough-rust railroads that crisscrossed the strange urban forest. As the sun grew in the sky, the cool haze lifted as a single cloud and hurried away to tuck-in some history over west. Someday I’ll follow that cloud, but that morning I was content with the maze of overhead steam pipes and emergency slides.

As the eagles overhead see it, this place, known collectively as INAAP, or the Indiana Army Ammunitions Plant, is a series of concrete stripes burrowed into a forest of new growth. The strings of industrial shells duplicate and reduplicate hundreds of times farther than the eye can see.

The the left, the nitrating line in War City. To the right, War City's sole suburb, Charlestown, IN.
The the left, the nitrating line in War City. To the right, War City’s sole suburb, Charlestown, IN.

References »

  • Army building: new du pont plant in indiana will make 600,000 lb. of powder a day. (1941, January 20).LIFE Magazine, 10(3), Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=8kgEAAAAMBAJ
  • Gray, R.D. (1994). http://books.google.com/books?id=slkbsubql-ac [p.355]. (Google Books), Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=SlKbSuBQL-AC
  • Historic American Engineering Record. (1985).Indiana army ammunition plant Library of Congress. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/IN0288/
  • Kleber, J.E. (2001). The encyclopedia of louisville[Illustrated ed.]. (Google Books), Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=pXbYITw4ZesC