Fridley page 1

[no source, October 23, 1940]

TNT Factory to Be Located on 20,000-Acre Tract 20 Miles North of City.

            Climaxing months of negotiations and careful surveys, announcement has been made that the War Department will construct a vast plant for the manufacture of the explosive, TNT, on a 20,000-acre site of land to be acquired in St. Charles County, southwest of Weldon Springs—twenty miles north of St. Louis.
            Thomas N. Dysart, president of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the State Industrial Commission, who took an active role in the negotiations, declared today that the plant will cost about $15,000,000 and produce, when completed, 800 tons of explosives daily.
Predicts 8,000 Jobs.
            R. Newton McDowell, Kansas City contractor who has been designated by the war department as land agent to acquire the site, estimated the plant will give employment to 8,000 to 10,000 workers. D. M. Bolton, engineer now representing McDowell at St. Charles, estimated the employment figure ultimately may run to 12,000 persons.
            Bolton announced at St. Charles today that the government expects to acquire the approximately 700 St. Charles County farms in the 20,000-acre tract within a month or six weeks from now, and that work will start on construction of the plant “just as soon as possible.”
            The St. Charles plant will be built by the government and leased and operated by the Atlas Powder Co. of Wilmington, Del. It will be devoted to the manufacture of trinitrotoluol (TNT) and dinitrotoluene (DNT)—powerful explosives for the use of the army.
            Land in the 20,000-acre site is rough, hilly—ideal for a plant, Bolton stated today. In preparation for the mass of legal work which must be done to acquire title to the area, Bolton today planned to confer with Earl Sutton, circuit court clerk at St. Charles.
Near Daniel Boone Bridge.
            Roughly, the plant site is triangular in shape, spreading fanwise westward from the new Daniel Boone Bridge across the Missouri River, south of new Highway No. 40, and north of the river. The highway side of the tract measures about seven miles, the river side an equal distance, and the southwest or largest side, about eight miles.
            Announcement of the government’s plans for the giant plant were made in Washington by Mcdowell, and in St. Charles by Bolton.
            Lieut. Col. Ward H. Maris, publicity officer of the War Department at Washington, stated that as [one or more lines missing]

Site for $15,000,000 TNT Plant
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[Typewritten note:]
On October 23, 1940 a St. Louis paper published the information attached on this sheet. This news fell like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky on the inhabitants of the peaceful little hamlets of Howell, Hamburg and Dardenne and adjacent territory. The inhabitants of the villages had lived in this area for generations, and some could boast of being direct descendants of Daniel Boone, the great pioneer of the West. With sad hearts one might see groups talking together of this tragedy which had come upon them so unexpectedly.
The people of these villages were law abiding citizens who had labored hard to own their homes which were very dear to them. Churches had been built, Methodist, Evangelical, and Presbyterian. On Sundays the churches were filled with devout worshippers. Francis Howell Institute was endowed in 1886 by Francis Howell. Many public school teachers were graduated from this institution. Later it was changed into a first class high school. Many one room schools dot the area, and one has fond recollections of “The Little Red School House.”
Mail was brought to these villages by horseback in early days, it was carried by Louis Howell gratis once a week from Augusta an adjoining railroad town. Later it was brought from St. Charles by wagon once a week by Jim Zumalt the first paid employee of the Government. Today rural mail and post offices are used.
The early settlers and inhabitants of today have always been very hospitable. In sickness and in death one had a host of friends who stood ever ready to help. Sorrow and happiness was shared by all. A death in the neighborhood severed a link in a chain that bound these country folk together heart and soul.
These village people were happy because they were too busy to be miserable. Their work was of the barter type, they helped each other with their butchering, threshing, apple-butter making was a real joy to all. There was social evenings and the old square dance was enjoyed by young and old. Bob Muschany was the star caller for these dances, and they would last until the wee hours of the morning.
Factors which influenced the government in selecting the St. Charles site were also factors which made this area most valuable to the property owners.