Kingsbury Ordnance Plant’s history won’t fade with time

By Natalie Pritz, LaPorte High School student

Just off U.S. 35 is an area once known as the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant. Some people drive past the entrance every day. Some people hunt, fish, or use the shooting range. But how many LaPorteans really know the rich history of the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant?

In 1940, the United States War Department chose this area of the county to build munitions for use in World War II. Before the decision, this land was used for farming and was known as a town called Tracy. The government bought out the land and moved Tracy’s residents to a new area to then be named New Tracy.

Jim Heinold, owner of Heinold Industrial Property in Kingsbury Industrial Park, which sits on property once part of KOP, said this area was chosen as the ammunition production center for many reasons.

“It’s close to center of the heartland and away from the water of the coasts. The Japanese and the Germans had submarines to attack our shores, so here we were away from waters.”

Throughout World War II, munitions were produced at the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant. They were transported from the KOP by railroads to the East Coast, the West Coast and the Port of New Orleans to be shipped out to our troops.

After the war ended, the plant was shut down by the government, but in the early 1950s it was reopened for ammunition production for the Korean War. After the Korean War was over, the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant was officially shut down and sold off.

Today, part of the property is now known as the Kingsbury Industrial Park and part as the Kingsbury State Fish and Wildlife Area.

When driving or walking through the old KOP, it is nearly impossible to miss the fenced-off pieces of land with the “contaminated area” signs. Heinold stated these parts of the land were used as “burning fields and test areas.” In 1970, contractors were hired to clean up these contaminated areas. Even with millions of munitions produced, Heinold said it would be “very, very rare” to find an unexploded shell in the areas.

From the KOP’s beginning in the 1940s, building ammunition for World War II, to the property today, housing companies such as Waste Management of LaPorte, the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant property will be forever stitched into the fabric of LaPorte County’s history.

“This is a very history rich area and people need to be aware of it,” said Heinold.

75 Responses to “Kingsbury Ordnance Plant’s history won’t fade with time”

  1. Len Avarfon

    Jun 17. 2009

    There are areas out there that have lots of unexploded ordinance. My friend used to work for a company on the property there and he said every winter when the ground would start freezing they would hear explosions as the ammo is compressed.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Carrie Kennedy

    Nov 02. 2009

    It’s really nice to see the KOP remembered. Doing genealogy research, I found that my grandparents met while my grandfather was working at the KOP. I would love to know if there are any employment records maintained somewhere. Thank you for this article.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Tim

    Dec 08. 2009

    It’s unlikely the plant was reopened in 1959 for the Korean War, which ran from June 1950 to July 1953. Perhaps you meant 1950?

    Reply to this comment
  4. Kandace

    Mar 30. 2010

    Just thought I would let you know one tiny mistake you made. The Korean War was from June 1950 to July 1953. The plants were reopened in 1951 until 1953.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Lynn

    Mar 31. 2010

    My great-grandmother also worked in the munitions factories/bunkers. I would love to see current photos and to know if there were records maintained as well.

    I would also love to know which parts are accessable for visiting and photographing. The KOP is part of my family history, and I do not want to lose it. Just finding information online has been hard enough. Thank you for any reply received.

    Reply to this comment
    • Charles

      Nov 03. 2013

      I will be going to the shooting range again soon and will see what I can discover.

      Reply to this comment
    • Bryan

      Jun 15. 2014

      me and few of my friends just actually went out to where it was to explore cause we heard it was haunted and found a few buildings it was really interesting… didnt discover much haunt just hit a few warm spots where the temp went up a few degrees

      Reply to this comment
  6. Jeffrey Holtz

    Apr 15. 2010

    I would like to learn more about KOP, especially the re-opening during the Korean War. My father is found in the City Directory as an employee of KOP. One interesting story he told me was about Charlie Finley.

    During breaks and lunchtime, many of the employees would play cards like Pinochle and Euchre. My father was no exception and he played cards mant times with Charlie. It was during this time that Charlie became ill and ended up in the hospital. He did not have health insurance and was fearful of financial future. He ultimately devised a plan where employers were responsible for health insurance of their employees. And the rest is history!

    Reply to this comment
  7. Ken

    May 11. 2010

    I used to use Casteel for our steel castings. More than once we heard explosions where a deer stepped on “something”. There are still areas (well marked) that are dangerous.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Chris Parks

    Jun 09. 2010

    but in 1959 it was reopened for ammunition production for the Korean War.

    Wouldn’t that be 1950?

    Good info, like the site.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Edwin Dykes

    Jun 25. 2010

    My father worked at the KOP as a steam pipe fitter until 1945. We lived in Kingsford Heights in a 3-bedroom, 2-bath government owned home. The address was 389 Chattfield Road. I think I recall the rent was $43.50 a month (or close to that). It was NEW and it was great. The war ended and we moved to Norman, OK where my father worked at the North Naval Base in the same capacity. In 1946 we moved to Lindsay, OK and he helped drill the discovery oil well in the Lindsay field. Lots of pleasant memories of Kingsford Heights, Indiana.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Susan

    Aug 03. 2010

    If anyone does find out if there are employee records stored somewhere I’d be VERY interested in looking up some of my relatives that worked there.

    Reply to this comment
  11. steve

    Sep 10. 2010

    I used to live in La Porte for 30 yrs. During that tme I used to work at KOP industrial park for New Plant Life,Ireco Chemical and Dankert Farms.I been all over that place even in contaminated areas.All that I ever found was thousands of 20mm shell casings hundreds of spent 20mm rounds in all kinds of deformation and a field of some kind of exploded detonators. They were half inch round quarter inch wall by 4 inches long and were opened on the end like a cartoon rifle barrel that had been plugged by bugs bunny.That place had a test fire pit everything was tested there my grandfather told me, he worked there during WWII. All the explosions everyone hears now and then is the fireworks company that is still there.They test alot I know New PlantLife is right by them.Ireco was way out back in the high explosive bunkers these are the biggest in KOP there are others for fuses and detonators much smaller, we made explosives there, they connected 3 together side to side they are almost 75 yds. apart.Ireco is no longer there. I used to haul the leftover ammonium nitrate from manufacturing to the local grain elevator for fertilizer in Kingsbury.It was quite a site when Fisher-Calo blew up. Chlorine storage amongst other bad stuff in 55 gal. drums and bigger stuff went up high into the air. Speaking of bad stuff grandpa said at shift changes and cleanup all dirt and some powder gets washed right out the door with water and they wiped equipment down with pure acetone.It is really clean there after 60 years.The military and the EPA have done cleanup there alot and part of it is used for national guard training.

    Reply to this comment
  12. My father worked at the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant during WWII. We lived in LaPorte when I was a little kid. I would like to find out if there are records, photos, historical accounts, etc. connected with this plant. I would like to find out more about what my father did there.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Daniel R. Stice, LTC US Army (Retired)

    Dec 13. 2010

    I was assigned there as a Major in the Army Reserve and a Dept of Defense Civilian employee from 1977
    through 1989. My position was with a USAR School. I was also the Kingsbury Reserve Training Area Facilities Manager. This was my favorite assignment during my 25 years of military service.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Susan

    Jan 06. 2011

    I lived in Kingsbury from 1954 to 1973 and remember never going near there because of the army reserve having guards posted at the entrance. We would pass by there on our way to go swimming at the pond.

    Reply to this comment
  15. mike strelesky

    May 10. 2011

    i have been exploring out ther a few time and there isnt much left in the buildings just grafiti and dust but is a very fun place to explore just dont get cought because we went at night oncw and then left and came back but there were sirens goin off then just stopped out of nowhere

    Reply to this comment
  16. Noël Claessens

    May 27. 2011

    My name is Noël Claessens, of The Netherlands, and I life in Maastricht. I have adopted the name of a soldier who died in WW II/ His name is Lacy Collinsworth. He died on july 25th 1943. It is possible that Lacy worked in this factory. Perhaps his parents worked her: Marshall and Myrtle Collinsworth.
    If anybody knew Lacy or his parents, of relatives of there’s, please contact me! I want to have contact with persons who knew Lacy.
    Thank yoy very much! Noël.

    Reply to this comment
  17. Noël Claessens

    May 30. 2011

    Hello, a little update. Marshall is actually Walter Collinsworth, and he died in 1931. Myrtle’s maiden name was Marshall. Walter and Myrtle had 9 children: Lacy, Edward, Haywood, Chester, Marvis, Wanata, Geneva and Dallas. Is is very much possible that Myrtle and her daugters worked in this plant. Does anybody knew one of the nine children of Myrtle Collinsworth? If you do, please contact me at: claessens32@gmail.com. thank you very much!

    NoËl Claessens, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

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  18. Bob Whittaker

    Jul 08. 2011

    Noel. Magoffin County Kentucky is publishing a series of volumes honoring veterans of the county. I have written an artical on the life of Lacy Collinsworth. I am not a descendant but I know a descendant of Lacy Collinsworth’s sister. If you email me at robert.whittaker@charter.net, I will send you the email address. Bob.

    Reply to this comment
  19. Victor Baird

    Aug 07. 2011

    When I was a the National Archives II in College Park, Maryland, this year, I saw some photos of the KOP on file. It appears the number of photos was very limited but there were some photos of people at work in the facilities. I was looking for photos of the rail network, but did not find any.

    Reply to this comment
  20. My mother worked at Kingsbury in 1942. We lived in Niles, Michigan on 2nd Street next to Niles Laundry. I was 9 years old and little sister JoAnn was 5 years old. Times were really different then…I “baby-sat” my little sister, a 9 year old caring for a 5 year old. It was frightening to hear grownups talking about how dangerous it was working at Kingsbury as, “It could blowup”! At 9 years old I was also responsible to fix the dinner meal. With dinner fixed Jo and I would sit on the curb in front of our apartment building waiting and waiting, watching every car coming down the street. I remember being on the verge of tears as time seemed to stand still and then what a relief when that familiar car pool vehicle came into sight. Don’t know what mom did, she just mentioned black powder?? I would appreciate hearing from anyone who might remember my mother and what her job was. With the name Turtle being so different perhaps it will help, e-mail me at djochenryder@aol.com.

    Reply to this comment
  21. John A.S.

    Aug 18. 2011

    My Grandfather worked at Kingsbury Ordnance Plant and he had said those UFO reports in the 50′s are real, I won’t go into the rest of the story you wouldn’t believe it.

    Reply to this comment
  22. Mary Muncy

    Aug 23. 2011

    My father worked and was killed at Kingsbury Ordnance Plant on August 31,1943. His name was Noah Carpenter. If anyone has any information how I can find the details I would appreciate it. I have no information at all. We lived in Culver,In at the time. Thank You,Pepper33614@blomand.net

    Reply to this comment
  23. Noël Claessens

    Sep 03. 2011

    Dear Bob,

    I apologize for this late response. I have been sick for a while. Please contact me! You can mail me at: claessens32@gmail.com. I am very interested in Lacy Collinsworth, and what you know! I ou are very honored to get in touch with you. Perhaps you can help me! Thank you very much thanks!

    Noel Claessens,
    Maastricht,
    Netherlands

    Reply to this comment
  24. A.P.P

    Sep 18. 2011

    To John A.S. I am very interested in the stories can you please type them?

    Reply to this comment
  25. janice pearce

    Oct 14. 2011

    i would be very interested in finding out all the history around kingsbury and the stories from the people who worked there or their relatives u can email me with the stories or the history at bigmama471963@yahoo.com

    Reply to this comment
  26. Mike Kitchell

    Oct 16. 2011

    I was Born in Laporte in 1950. I remember when I was 2-5 yrs old hearing explosions as they would set off unused amunition and used gun power. Mom and Dad both worked there. They told alot of stories about workers scrapping the gun powder kettles and sometimes they would catch an explosion. I now live in Buchanan, have not seen Laporte in 35 yrs.

    Reply to this comment
  27. Susan Parry

    Nov 01. 2011

    This is the most interesting piece I’ve read about the KOP. My father, Budd Myers, worked for Kingsbury from 1942-1945. He wasn’t on the line, however, but was sent on road trips to Arkansas and Missouri to recruit workers (female) for the plant. He helped these women (and probably some men) with travel arrangmenets on the right train to take them to northern Indiana. He recalled one woman who forgot her ironing board at home and wanted to go back and get it. Dad went to a nearby hardware store and bought her an ironing board. I was a young girl during the war, but I recall he was often away for three weeks at a time on these trips.

    Reply to this comment
  28. Kay Vandergrift

    Nov 06. 2011

    Both of my parents worked at KOP and it is there that they met during WWII before Dad was drafted. I was told that Dad worked at the Fire Department and Mom and my Grandmother worked on the line. My Great Aunt was secretary for the doctor there. Mom always said that she and Dad met over a vat of TNT. Later they lived in Kingsford Heights. Are there employment records available to verify these family stories? Does anyone recognize the names Jacobsen, Covert or Seglem?

    Reply to this comment
    • Kerry

      Oct 01. 2013

      My great grandfather was fire chief @ KOP. Donald Early was his name. My mother may remember the names because she spend a lot of time at KOP. If I remember correctly, my great grandfather lived in one of the big homes at KOP.

      Reply to this comment
  29. Noël Claessens

    Dec 04. 2011

    Dear Bob Whittaker,

    Could you please contact me? My email is:
    claessens32@gmail.com or n.claessens @ kpnplanet.nl.
    Should anyone have information and / or a photo of Lacy Collinsworth, please contact me. Should anyone have the email address of Bob Whittaker, leave a message. You would really help me in my search for a picture of Lacy Collinsworth. I appreciate every help and information on price! Thank you!

    Sincerely,
    Noel Claessens,
    The Netherlands.

    Reply to this comment
  30. Perry Wahlin

    Dec 13. 2011

    My mother, Eleanor Wahlin, worked at the KOP in the early 40′s. I was 8 or 9 years old and we lived in Walkerton, in what I can best describe as temporary duplex houses. The railroad tracks were just behind our house and I can vividly remember the flat cars loaded with tanks rolling by. I also remember us kids going around with our wagons collecting papers and scrap metal for the war effort. Another thing we did was collect the pods from milkweed plants. I guess they were used in life jackets. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who lived in that housing project during that period of time.

    Reply to this comment
  31. Kim

    Jan 04. 2012

    I came across a production schedule dated September 30, 1956. My grandmother has gone into a nursing home and I was going through some old papers she had saved. It mentions two people in the report: W.E. Pendergast and M.P. Roberts, with my grandma being the one whom prepared the report. It says it was the Loading and Small Arms plant. Kind of interesting, I didn’t realize that the KOP was such a big deal. She has so much history, I wish now I had found this before and had talked with her about it before her memory had started to go.
    Kim from Michigan

    Reply to this comment
  32. Austi

    Mar 06. 2012

    Ive always known about the area but have been exploring the area alot latley. Some of the older buildings are accessable without no tresspassing signs. I would like to ask to anyone who knows, after the military moved out i heard that alot of chemical factories moved in. In the 70′s before the EPA monitored stuff there is word that lots of acid and chemicals where dumped into the ground. Is this true?

    Reply to this comment
  33. Loren

    Apr 12. 2012

    I was told my grandfather, Albert F. Reichmann, a Civil Engineer, was responsible for the steel work for the KOP. He was with American Bridge Company, Division of U.S.Steel Corp.

    Reply to this comment
  34. Arthur Brost

    Jul 06. 2012

    I lived in what was called the circle( the current two story white houses) from 1948 to 1954. It was a great place for us as children although a little restricted. I remember Mike King (the fire chief) would let us climb the hose drying tower at the main firehouse. There are so many memories of K.O.P. that I could go on for hours.

    Reply to this comment
  35. Sue

    Oct 07. 2012

    I have a very old “chest” from my dad from WWII. I just discovered that Kingsbury Ordnance is written on the bottom. I have kept it as it was special to him. Is it important memorabilia? Or just sentimental to me? Thanks.

    Reply to this comment
  36. Corey

    Oct 13. 2012

    Sue, I would certainly hold on to the chest. WWII was a very important time in American history. I have extensively explored KOP since about 1986 when there was a lot more to see than there is now. I’ve researched KOP at the LaPorte Historic Museum and found letters from workers at KOP. these letters touched my heart as working conditions were absolutley terrible. Frostbite resulting in loss of extremeties was common as well as accidental explosions that claimed many lives. I have collected some small artifacts from KOP and hold them dear to my heart to remember all of those who gave their lives during WWII. I would sugest that you either keep the chest or donate it to the LaPorte Historical Museum so other people can view it. I certainly would like to see it! Items like your chest are getting to be very rare and should be preserved.

    Reply to this comment
  37. Jim

    Nov 11. 2012

    My Mother and Uncle worked there during the War years. Are there any employment records to research for their names, etc?

    Reply to this comment
  38. Tyler

    Jan 12. 2013

    I was wondering if there are any bunkers and buildings that I can walk into I would love to see them and look T what it was like back when the plants were running. I was also wondering if it was true about the FEMA coffins at kingsbury

    Reply to this comment
  39. Jerri Simon

    Jan 22. 2013

    My 99 year old (still living) grandmother worked at that plant. We have a few photos of some of the crews at that time

    Reply to this comment
    • Mary Muncy

      Sep 21. 2013

      My father was killed at Kingsbury Aug 31,1943. His name was Noah Carpenter. If you have any pictures or information of that time I would appreciate it.
      thank you

      Reply to this comment
  40. Carolyn Morris

    Feb 05. 2013

    I am doing research for a book a am writing about the history of my family. Wicker is my Mother’s maiden name. The family migrated from Kentucky to Indiana to work at the plant in 1941. My Grandpa, Edgil Wicker helped to build the homes for the workers before he went into the plant to work. Like everyone else, I would like to know if there are any records of employees that could be located.I live in northeast Indiana now. I will check back for comments from any of you with information. Thank you

    Reply to this comment
  41. Liana Ross

    Feb 18. 2013

    I am doing a family tree for younger members of my family. My grandfather, Francis A. Ross, was the man in charge of the plant during WWII, or at least that is what the few letters I have from him indicate. Does anyone have any information/ work rosters to verify this?

    Reply to this comment
  42. Chuck Smith

    Apr 20. 2013

    I just found this interesting site. I worked at KOP from 2/1951 to 2/1956. Started as a mechanics helper, then a bus driver, then an Asst. Transportation Foreman. As Asst.Foreman, I worked topside (the “Y” area) and also at Bldg. S-4-2. My bosses were Jim Hopple and Bob Barker. I am still in touch with Barker who lives in Cheyenne,WY. Hopple died in the 1970′s or 80′s. Another KOP’er and I became friends and owned an airplane together. I’m still in touch with him also. He lives in Louisiana. KOP was a wonderful experience for me, and I have so many fond memories of it Inciidentally, I was born in Haskells ( LaPorte County),, but left there in 1930 only to return after I was discharged from the Navy.

    Reply to this comment
    • James Heinold

      Nov 03. 2013

      The Heinold family purchased the “S’ area in 1964 at the GSA auction. Building S-4-2 is on our property. We are going to celebrate 50 years of owning the property in April next year 2014. I was probably the first person to enter building S-4-2 in its original condition as left after the closing of the plant after the Korean War. We took out the office partition wall’s and used the building as our Egg Processing Plant [Switching from Shells to Egg Shells] The other buildings were used to house poultry, chickens and turkeys. The poultry operation was terminated in 1976 and all the 45 buildings in ” S” area were re-purposed to Heinold Industrial LLC still owned by the Heinold Family to this day and 100% occupied by a variety of industrial tenants. I could share other post GSA Sale experiences of the KOP for 1964 to today

      Reply to this comment
  43. David Rabbitt

    Apr 21. 2013

    I have many good memories of working inside the KOP. I worked as the Agent for the four railroads that served the facility. I was not restricted in where I could go within the 10,000 or so acres and took advantage of watching defective/obsolete ammo being “burned”. Ammo was buried several feet deep and then covered with heavy lumber “mats”. The concusion was felt by my wife in our apartment in LaPorte!! Also, it was fun to watch 20mm ammo being tested. Chuck Smith and I became fast friends during that time as we both had offices in S-4-2. Before moving from IN to LA I fequently flew over the KOP property and enjoyed the memories of good people to work with.

    Reply to this comment
    • James Heinold

      Nov 03. 2013

      David & Chuck. Do you remember the RR switch board with the track and lights on it?? I sold it to a RR collector in Niles MI. Do not know his name, it was a large signal board and may still be in the Niles MI area. I have one RR red crossing light. Use to have buckets full of 20 mm casings and unarmed heads but gave them all away except for a few. Still have one 105 mm shell. They were every where on the property when we first moved in in 1964. My first office and shop was in “S-5-2″ Converted “S-4-2″ into our Egg Processing Plant in 1966. Property is still in the Heinold Family and I an the general manager. Will have owned the property 50 next year 2014.

      Reply to this comment
      • David Rabbitt

        Nov 04. 2013

        Jim–=I have no recollection of the signal board you referred to. My time there was not as employed by KOP. I was the Agent for the four railroads serving KOP and had nothing to do with the internal transportation network. My function was to requisition railcars from the serving RR’s, fill the orders for rail cars as requested by the various shipping foremen and, to take care of all the paperwork involved. KOP provided transportation for me and I had to chance to move all over the facility inspecting loaded rail cars, delivering the Bills of Lading to the railroad offices off the plant site. Great job. I enjoyed it a lot and have memories of some super people who worked there.

        Reply to this comment
  44. David Rabbitt

    Apr 22. 2013

    P.S. to the above comment. Actually, it must have been 3 railroads. The Nickel Plate Road, the Baltimore and Ohio and the Grand Trunk Western. I has been a long time ago and my memory can’t come up with a fourth railroad

    Reply to this comment
    • Mark Vaughan

      May 28. 2013

      The Wabash was the fourth. It ran along the northern border in an east west direction. the end points for that line were Chicago on the west and Montpelier on the east. A question for you Mr. Rabbit; Did the Wabash and GTW interchange traffic within the KOP facility? The Wabash crossed the GTW west of KOP on a bridge above the GTW and it does not look as though the two rails had a direct connectiong at the crossing.

      Reply to this comment
      • David Rabbitt

        May 28. 2013

        Mark–Thanks for reminding me which railroad I was missing!! No, there was no interchange of traffic within the confines of KOP. My home railroad was the NKP and the job I had was Joint Representative for the 4 serving railroads. Great job and I made a lot of friends there.

        Reply to this comment
  45. rebecca Allen Clemons

    Jun 08. 2013

    My mother Arline Fry, told me her aunt called her one morning when KOP was just opening. Auntie said,get ready fast Trudy and I (auntie’s best friend) are coming for you right now. Told my mom we are going to get one of those jobs!

    Mom said she was put on the line making bullits. She said she almost lost her chance while training, but a kind suppervisor, a woman,told her she new she could learn. Mom was scared she wouldn’t make it , but finally she learned.

    My mother had married very young, I’m not sure where she met her first husband or how long they were married. I think her parents were very opposed. I did find a pic of Mr.Fry many years latter and I always remembered the name. I think he was in uniform then. He stood like a soldier at ease with legs apart and hands behind his back.

    I do know mom met my father Homer Allen at KOP. My mom was young tiny and very pretty. She sang and played the gitar and was offered work in Chicago on WLS raido. Mom told me she thought it would be bad for her to leave home alone,and stayed in Michigan City IN with her parents where she was born.

    My father Homer Allen woked in some kind of supervisory position. My mother said he was forman over the line. Dad came from Knox IN. He had many brothers from a family of 17 children! I never heard any talk of what they did in the war. I do kow dad was exempt untill the end of the war when he was then shipped to France. He too had been married and was supporting four children.

    On an odd side note: In 1976 my fiancee and I were driving on a side street in michigan city one afternoon in Aug. Our wedding date was set for mid September. We noticed a nice older RV marked for sale so we stopped and ended up buying it on the spot. The odd thihg was the owner was none other than my mother’s first husband. I knew who he was right away but I did not say anything about mom.

    Reading this sight has been very interesting for me as my parents would not talk about their experiences. Maybe it was somewhat frighting for mom.

    Dad died in 1972, mom remarried and her third husband died in 2010. He was 10 years younger than mom and served in the korean war. Mom is 90 now.

    I too would love to see any records or pics from KOP during WII. I have always been interested in what my family’s life was like back then.

    Reply to this comment
  46. Raena Roth

    Oct 03. 2013

    I remember living in Kingsford Heights 1977-79 and that there was an explosion at that plant. I remember walking home from school and some guy on a megaphone was driving through Kingsford Heights yelling out that we needed to evacuate immediately. I can’t seem to find any information on that incident. Just curious as to what really happened as it has been a memory that I’ll never forget.

    Reply to this comment
  47. Chuck Smith

    Oct 03. 2013

    One of the above comments gave me an idea. How about starting a KOP ” family tree”. Probably not many of us KOP workers left, but it would be interesting to see how many we could get listed.

    Reply to this comment
  48. David Rabbitt

    Oct 03. 2013

    Chuck has a good idea. Go ahead a push it my friend

    Reply to this comment
  49. Jerry Williams

    Nov 06. 2013

    How can I find out if someone specific worked at the ordinance plant during WW2? He lived in Chicago and could not be drafted because of an injury but worked at a munitions plant during the war. His name was Jules Deutsch. Would appreciate any help you might offer.

    Reply to this comment
    • Chuck Smith

      Nov 06. 2013

      This will probably be of little or no help to you, but I knew a Deutsch family that lived in Wellsboro. Didn’t know Jules, but the family had several boys and a girl. I remember one of the boys was Jack, and the girl was Anna. Could be that Jules was the father or one of the boys. Wish I could be of more help.

      Reply to this comment
      • Eddie Dykes

        Jan 26. 2014

        Reply for CHUCK:
        We lived in Wellsboro in 1941 at the corner of Hamilton and C Street. It was an old 2-story frame house. We lived in the 2 story side and the owner (an old single lady) lived in the single story side. There was NO indoor plumbing and the heat was by a pot belly stove. I remember freezing my butt off when it was my turn to get up and start a fire in that old stove. My brother and I were responsible for the morning fire. I don’t remember any housing beyond D street. I do remember a ketchup factory East of Wellsboro on the North side of the RR tracks. I think I detect remnants of it on Google maps. One thing I do remember was the number of trains that passed thru these two small towns every day. Troop trains and war equipment trains. We only lived in Union Mills and Wellsboro a short time, and then we moved to Kingsford Heights.
        I am sorry, but I do not remember anyone’s name, other than Paul Novak, who owned the pool hall in downtown Union Mills…..and the reason I remember him is because you could buy a double dip ice cream in his pool hall for FIVE CENTS.

        Reply to this comment
        • Chuck Smith

          Jan 27. 2014

          My grandparents, “Jack” and Emma Cites lived at the corner of East 3rd. and “B” streets – the only house between “B” street and the
          Pierre-Marquette Railroad. I always spent the summers with them. John Swanson ran a store and was the postmaster. Did you happen to know John Clements or Jack Nichols? They were my summer playmates.
          I have so many pleasant memories of Wellsboro. Unfortunately my entire Cites family is now gone.

          Reply to this comment
  50. mj hannon

    Dec 15. 2013

    IT MIGHT BE WORTH THE EFFORT TO CHECK THE LP COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

    Reply to this comment
  51. Mike Sheetz

    Jan 30. 2014

    To Reana Roth, 10-3-13

    The Fischer-Calo fire in the Kingsbury Ind. Park was in 1978. I was working for Farm Credit back then, and we were having an openhouse for our new office building the day of the fire. Even from our position on SR 39 SW of LaPorte we could see nappome like smoke and flames shooting way into the afternoon and evening sky. All of that smoke was being blown SSW almost directly towards Kingsbury Heights.

    My wife, 5 year old daughter, and mother-in-law were coming from Bremen to join our event, and were detoured from Walkerton south to US 30, to SR39, then north to LaPorte. The emergency crews weren’t at all sure as to what was in that smoke.

    I was acquainted with a farm family that farmed some 2000 acres in the KOP area. I saw some of bunkers, spur tracks, and what was left of the smelting plant. Last summer I drove back into there some 5 straight miles. Still found it fascinating. On a plate book the KOP covered 23 square miles of some of the finest farm land anywhere on earth. It was an essential part of the war effort.

    I live in Indy now, and am a private pilot. I hope to someday soon fly up and over the KOP. On Google Earth it is still quite a sight.

    More of the history of KOP.

    Mike

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    • James Heinold

      Jan 30. 2014

      Mike. This February the Heinold Family [ Heinold Industrial LLC] will celebrate owning the S Area in the KOP for 50 years. I have the a copy of the document showing the KOP plat before the Government bought and built the plant.
      The KOP has been my second home beginning Feb 1964.
      Jim

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      • Mike Sheetz

        Jan 30. 2014

        Hi, Jim,
        Seeing the area before the war would be most interesting.

        Do you have a home or farmstead on KOP?

        My last boss at FCS owned a home on the west side of the parade field that had been part of the officer’s residential area. I remember he saying there was a central steam heat plant for that housing during the war, and that the houses were then mostly concrete block.

        The farm family I mentioned was that of Bruce and Melvin Grieger. I haven’t spoken to Bruce in years. All very good people. I don’t know if Mel is still with us.

        Congrats on the 50 years at KOP!

        Mike

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  52. Tom

    Feb 05. 2014

    I was born and raised in La Porte, IN from 1930 until 1948. My uncle, Louis Weiler was one of the first people hired at KOP. He was hired as a guard. They built a one room shack in the middle of the vacant farm land, gave him a revolver, and six days a week he sat in the shack from 12:00 am until 8:00 am. This was before construction began. He always wondered what he was guarding it from. There was a lack of housing and my parents rented out two bedrooms to some of the women that worked at the plant.

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  53. margie

    Mar 06. 2014

    My dad, 98, was recounting to me just moments ago about working at pikatiny arsenal for training and was transferred to KOP. He was a machine maintenance Forman. His job was to keep the machines running. I’ve read him most of your comments, but unfortunately he doesn’t remember anyone’s name. He was married in 1940…but had my two sisters…so they must have been there around the 1943 mark. He remembers a tiny, white, 4 walled government house with a wood burning stove in the middle of it. Possibly LaPorte area. His name is Tom Martin and now lives in Florida. This was fun for him to go down memory lane. Thank you for posting this site

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    • Phil White

      Mar 19. 2014

      Margie – My Father – William White worked at KOP from about 1942 till the end of the war. When he first started, he liived in Whiting and drove out there every day. He picked up 2 women in Gary and one man out by Union Mills and charged them $1.00 per week for the ride. In about 1942 (late) we moved to Westville, but he continued to work at the plant. He was a machinist. Unfortunately, we never did ask him many questions about what he did or in what area he worked. I remember several 20mm shells we used to have at the house, but have no idea where they went.

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  54. Dave Story

    Mar 18. 2014

    Really interested about the property. I had taken a bike ride through there seeing the entrances to the underground facilities along with the railroad tracks. Also noticed the signs saying contaminated area. What I found odd and this may just be me, was that my garmin gps went all haywire when I got close to the property. It couldn’t find where I was and it thought I was standing still when I was riding pretty fast. I had been riding for 2 hours and the garmin was fine but when I entered, everything got weird. Not sure if there is something up with the area that blocks signals or what???

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    • Name (required)

      Mar 18. 2014

      I use my GPS in the KOP to navigate and have also used it to measure distances, mark way points and store our property boundaries with no problem. Jim H

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  55. Paul Marsh

    Mar 19. 2014

    My Grandparents moved their farm and my Mother worked at the restuarant. Are we all here because of the KOP? The way it looks, this event should be moved to the Civic Auditorium.

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  56. Lois Clark

    Mar 19. 2014

    Like Paul…my grandparents, Allison ( Moyer) also had to move off their farm, I remember going along with my Mother as she picked up my Grandmother Allison and we went back to the “orchard” to see what was in season. I still work out here in this old plant…I have cousins that remember coming out here to my Grandparents farm when they were little. Also, my grandfather operated a store in the old town of Tracy. This is always interesting.

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  57. Bob

    Mar 20. 2014

    My family farmed very close to KOP and my grandfather was also a guard during WW two. We rented land in KOP to run cattle on in the mid 60′s. Olin corp produced amo for the Vietnam war and tested the “mini gun” in KOP. If you heard this gun you wouldn’t forget the sound. The other guys who had cattle could have been Cox? There was a connection to Arena auto auction in Chicago. Great memories from my youth in Northern Indiana

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  58. Jim

    Apr 04. 2014

    I grew up in La Porte, While a teenager, I worked in the KOP area for a couple of summers. The first summer, we worked for a company who had a government contract to seal Civil Defense drinking water cans. We had to run a bead of calk around the bottom of what were probably 10 gallon containers. This was probably in 1965. There were quite a few of those large buildings full of the cans stacked very high.

    The following year, we had a great job for teenagers. We had to build barbed wire fences and post keep-out signs. We were told these areas could still contain live ordinance, thus the reason for the fence and signs. We were given supplies and tools and a jeep to drive. We were pretty much on our own for the most part. We did go “off-road” a few times into the areas we were fencing off. Never got blown up!

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  59. Joelene

    Jun 17. 2014

    My father worked a KOP when I was 4 – 7 which would have been 1952 – 1955. I have been looking for information about the housing project we lived in. All I can remember is there was a railroad track on one side and the plant property on the other. I also remember a fairly long rode from a main street to housing project. I also think it was maybe only 2 square blocks. It was government owned, but all the houses were different. Maybe as though they were existing housing the gov purchased. Anyone have any info? Thanks

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