Picric Acid Plant
1918. America's official participation in World War One was brief- from 1917 to 1918. During the war years, the government designated Glynn County as a site for the production of picric acid, used in explosives. Construction of the massive factory cost seven million dollars and required 5000 people to build and 6000 people to operate upon completion. But on November 11, 1918, just thirty days before the scheduled completion of the factory, the Versailles peace treaty was signed ending World War One and the demand for picric acid. Construction stopped and the site was abandoned. Over the years, the factory was demolished leaving only one structure to remind visitors and residents of the "factory that never was." As drivers pass the Highway 341 exit on Interstate-95, they can't help but see the lone remaining structure of the picric acid plant- a tall chimney. The chimney serves as a reminder of the sacrifice paid in yesterday's wars to provide for today's peaceful prosperity.
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Visitors arriving here on I-95 often notice the huge, red brick chimney that rises from the southwest corner of Exit 36 (Highway 341). Yet, even most locals don't know the story behind this oddity, now chipped and broken, that is a reminder of Glynn County's participation in the home front efforts during World War I. In 1917, Glynn County was chosen as the site for construction of a massive factory for the production of picric acid - a vital war material then used in explosives. The government purchased a 2 mile by 3 mile tract and prepared to begin construction work on the $7,000,000 plant. The 5,000 laborers required to build it, and the 6,000 needed to operate it, equaled the area's then-small population. In November of 1918, just thirty days from scheduled completion of the factory, the war ended and the near-finished factory never opened. Its conversion into peacetime uses never materialized. In the ensuing years most of the factory structures have been torn down, including the twin to the chimney that remains. Those few buildings that still stand - most vacant, a few converted to modern uses - possess incredibly thick walls and huge oak beams. And the lone chimney, from the factory that never was, stands above it all.
aka The Factory That Never Was
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