Whole of 15-Acre Tract to Be Covered by the Factory.
Army Officials To Give Out Details
Three Hundred Workmen to Arrive First of Next Week.
Houses To Build For The Newcomers
Charleston Labor to Be Employed So Far as Possible, Say the Contractors for 'Plant C' of U. S. System of Munition Factories.
Charleston Daily Gazette
January 2, 1918
Work will be started on the mammoth "United States Government Explosive Plant 'C'" at Sattes, or Lock Seven, as soon as materials are on the ground.
This official announcement was made last night by A. G. Moulton, of New York City, chief of construction work for the Thompson-Starratt Co., contractors, of New York City.
The huge plant will be constructed by the cantonment division of the war department, operating under the general supervision of the quartermaster's corps under Brigadier General I. W. Latelle. Mr. Moulton has just finished construction work at Camp Upton, Yaphank, L. I., and is bringing his crews direct to Charleston.
Details Are Secret.
Because the new plant is being built for the government, Mr. Moulton refused to make an official announcement, saying that he had instructed his men to keep quiet on all details connected with the plant. This indicates that the magnitude of the plant will not be officially made public for some time, and Mr. Moulton said that he would await the pleasure of officials connected with the war department.
Possibly the first of next week an information bureau, composed of army officials, will be on the scene and details will be given out through this source. This act would avoid any possibility of mistakes and rumors will not be looked upon with pleasure by the officials.
Mr. Moulton made no statement of the cost of constructing the chemical plant. No set contract has been made, it is understood, and a blanket contract covering the completed industry is thought to have been made.
To Cover Big Tract.
It is true that the industry and Crawford City will, when completed, take up every available inch of a 1,500 acre tract of land, known as the old Crawford farm. As one unit is constructed it will be put into operation and the huge force of workmen will be withdrawn to another unit.
Three hundred men, as previously stated, will be on the scene by Saturday. Efforts are being made by the advance guard to take care of these men until barracks can be completed. The men will be housed in Crawford City as fast as houses can be completed for them and thus the danger of overloading the city will be taken care of by those in charge.
It is an open question whether the plant will be operated after the war by the government for the manufacture of chemicals or will go to the duPont corporation, which owns the huge site on which the industry and city will be erected, said Mr. Moulton.
Carpenters First Need.
All of the labor possible will be procured in Charleston, he said, because that would also serve to alleviate any lack of homes. Carpenters and common laborers are needed first, and the company makes its policy to employ union labor where enough men can be found. If enough union men are not available, then it is necessary to employ men who are not members of the union, because the huge plants must be in operation by June 1, it is understood.
Work will be started next Monday, if possible. Heads of several branches of construction work are in the city, with Mr. Moulton as general superintendent. These men are: A. G. Williams, A. Cunins, of New York; D. J. Mahoney, of Summitt, N. J.; R. P. Meiner, J. M. Kelly, J. O. Whiting, of New York; John F. Maher, of College Point, N. Y.; F. H. Schnepper, J. R. Bohn and J. P. Carmady, of New York.
Three thousand men will be employed at the plants by February 1. An extensive advertising campaign for labor is expected in this section, and every able bodied man will be given employment.
"Speed, speed, speed!" is the slogan, but thoroughness will be manifested at every degree of the construction.
To Extend Lines.
C. R. Koehler, of Champagne, Ills., chief of the commissary department, will employ both railroad and river to carry supplies to the scene. Officials of the Dunbar Traction Co. have already stated that they expect to extend their line down the river and tap the new industrial center. With the river frozen, navigation is almost impossible at this time, but soon spring freshets will furnish a navigable stage and gasoline tugs will have all of the business they can handle this spring.
With the coming of thousands of workmen to this section, there will also come an element with which the police must cope. The police department is now smaller than it has been for some time, and Chief of Police Sparkes, Mayor G. A. MacQueen, and other city officials, are up against a serious proposition.
Explosive Plant C, a war department project, will be a permanent industry for the Kanawha valley. It will not be another "Hopewell," to become unheard of in a few years. Meetings are expected this week among the city officials to discuss the situation.
Plant C and Crawford City will be governed almost entirely as a big army camp, it is understood, and the works will be guarded at all times to prevent the inroads of a possible alien enemy.
City is Complimented.
Mr. Moulton last night said he wanted to congratulate Charleston people on "living in such a fine city." He said that he had no idea such a beautiful little place could be tucked safely away in the hills and commented favorably on Charleston banks. He will reside in Charleston until the work is completed.
Other officials of the company, including L. J. Herowitz, president of the construction company, will reside in Charleston. Headquarters of the company will be maintained in this city, as will the information bureau for newspapers.
That secrecy will be clamped on tight until the excitement has passed and the people take the plant as "matter of fact," is the statement. Official announcements will give out such details as the bureau deems of news value and other than these statements, the public will be at sea with regard to details.
Military and Wartime